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Entwined by Heather Dixon is an absolutely beautiful rendition of The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale.  I was skeptical at first, mostly because I’m skeptical of a lot of YA these days.  There is a huge amount of it being released, and not a lot of it is well-written.  Heather Dixon, however, is an author that promises and then delivers. I cannot wait for more of her work!

I was surprised by how many people I’ve talked to that don’t know the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The basic plot of the original fairy tale is: there are twelve princesses who sneak out of their room every night into a magical fairy land and dance until dawn.  The King is very perplexed by the mystery of their worn-out dancing slippers, which were new the morning before, and decrees that the man who can find out where they go every night may have the hand of the eldest princess.  The premise behind this novel is very similar to this, though it has been fleshed out to create a full-blooded story.  For instance, Dixon answers the question of why the princesses have to sneak out and dance, rather than simply dancing in their palace.  She’s also created a lot of history and backstory for her fictitious kingdom, and her characters sparkle (Figuratively. Used to be we could say that and everyone would know they didn’t literally sparkle, but thanks to Stephanie Meyer…).  And to add an element of darkness, there is an evil enchanter lurking in the fairy pavilion where they go to dance.  His name is Mr. Keeper, and he likes to keep things.

In this story, we get to know each princess, though the heroine is the eldest, Azalea.  Each sister has a unique personality: Azalea is maternal and feels responsible for her younger siblings. Bramble is fiery, temperamental, and wild. Clover is beautiful, sweet, and shy. You get the idea. But I like that Dixon made an attempt to make each of these twelve girls unique. Twelve is a lot of personalities to invent! Especially when you take into account that they are not the only characters in the novel.

Mr. Keeper is delightfully evil.  In the beginning he is dashing and charming, with a slightly sexy, dangerous air.  As the novel progresses, he reveals his true colors, and his true identity–neither of which, I’ll confess, I predicted.  I mean, I knew he was the bad guy, but I didn’t know he was that bad.

And then, of course, there are the relationships between the characters.  This is something that is always really important to me. The relationship between Azalea and her sisters is fiercely loyal and yet sweet.  The relationship between the girls and their father is strained and heartbreaking, though eventually his attitude toward them begins to thaw.  And the romance! It’s all so sweet! And innocent. I just love an innocent, slow-blooming romance in which both parties don’t even realize that they’ve fallen in love until some great event leads them to realize they cannot live without each other.

There were inconsistencies in Dixon’s writing. For instance, about three-quarters of the way through the book, she started italicizing words for emphasis a lot more than she did in the previous quarters.  It was bizarre and a little off-putting.  Still, the plot was fantastic, especially toward the end, so it didn’t really take away from the overall story much.  I think Dixon has a really stellar novel here, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of reading it. Like Peri, for instance :) Enjoy!

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