Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Entwined Book Review

Author: Heather Dixon. Release date: 2011. Publisher: Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 9780062001030.

Annotation:  Azalea promises she will take care of her eleven younger sisters after their mother dies, but it is difficult to keep the rambunctious girls happy in a castle full of rules and regulations. When the girls discover a secret passage in their room that leads to a magical pavilion, they are able to dance to their hearts’ content every night. But everything is not as it seems, and Azalea begins to fear that their nightly haven might be dangerous.

Personal thoughts: I have always been a fan of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale, and adored this new take on the story. Azalea is an excellent lead character, and I loved the mysterious workings of the palace. Dixon does a wonderful job of building suspense and a sense of dread as Azalea discovers the truth behind the magical pavilion. I highly recommend this book!

Plot summary: Azalea is the Princess Royale of her father’s kingdom in Eathesbury, but being in line for the throne is far from easy. She has eleven rambunctious little sisters and, after their mother’s tragic death, she becomes responsible for raising them. Her relationship with her father, the King, is distant as he struggles to cope with his wife’s death. The palace is fraught with rules and regulations, specifically a ban on dancing following in the wake of the queen’s death, which makes Azalea and her sisters very unhappy. One night, Azalea discovers a magical passageway in the girls’ room that leads to a beautiful silver pavilion. The girls discover that the pavilion is run by Keeper, a mysterious but incredibly handsome and charming man who informs them that he was imprisoned in the walls for betraying the evil High King who terrorized the country centuries before. In the pavilion, the girls discover a sanctuary from the rules of the palace, and make a nightly habit of dancing to their hearts’ content. Soon, however, Keeper’s behavior becomes more sinister, and Azalea begins to fear that he is not as kind as he seems. Can Azalea protect her sisters, and her kingdom, from the danger that lurks in the walls of the palace?

Review:  Wonderfully written and thoroughly entertaining, Entwined is an excellent novel for anyone who is a fan of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale. Dixon does a superb job of adding onto the tale, giving it twists and turns that are very enjoyable. The relationship between Azalea, her sisters, and their distant father is at the forefront of the novel. Each girl has her own unique personality, and are all likable as well. Their love for dancing and its subsequent ban after the death of their mother is reminiscent of The Secret Garden. The magical pavilion housed inside a forest of silver is beautifully described, and the character of Keeper is intriguing as well. Overall, an excellent novel and quick read despite it’s 450+ page length.

Genre: Fantasy

Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Themes:  Story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, sibling relationships, father/daughter relationships, dancing, grief.   

Awards/Reviews:  Positive review from Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.
Series Information: N/A

Discussion Questions:

- Have you read the fairytale that this story is based on, The Twelve Dancing Princesses? How does it compare to this adaptation?

- Why do you think the King is treating Azalea and her sisters the way he is?

- What were your first impressions of Keeper? How did they change throughout the novel?
- Can you think of a way that you would adapt another famous fairytale?

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