Monday, August 15, 2011

Entwined, by Heather Dixon

Ok, I know that some of you complain that you can hardly follow this site because I make you want to read too many books. (HA!) Well, just grab your To Be Read list and leave your grumpy little sigh-filled note about Entwined, by Heather Dixon.

This novel by Dixon was advertised as follows: "this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou." I am thoroughly entertained by Hale, I rather enjoy a good McKinley, and now I think I must look into Pattou (who I am not familiar with.) The advertisement was true. If you like either Hale or McKinley, get thee to a bookstore and snatch up this lovely little gem!

Entwined is the retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Dixon uses all of the elements of that story in this particular story. It's full of princesses, magic, dancing and has a happy ending so I was thoroughly satisfied. In short, I could not put this book down! (If I were on Facebook here I'd be clicking the "Like" button about a million times.)

Basic storyline is as follows:

We are immediately introduced to Azelea who is the main character. She is the eldest of the twelve princesses whose names travel down the alphabet and all have to do with gardening or flowers. The Queen mother dies and the king and princesses go into their required mourning period. One of the rules of mourning is that you are not allowed to dance which, of course, these princesses cannot abide giving up. They find a magical passageway inside the castle which introduces them to a Mr. Keeper who allows them to dance every single night to their heart's desire.

Naturally, the king discovers that his daughters are breaking mourning but they will not - and indeed cannot - tell him why, because they have "sworn on silver" that they will not tell them and in this partly magical land of Eathesbury, you cannot break a promise made on silver. There is great magic in silver, which is thought to be the purest medal in the land. The king then advertises about his dilemma, asking for help in discovering where the princesses are going each evening.

The girls thrill in dancing and are very grateful and enamoured with Mr. Keeper who allows them to come to his secret pavilion every single evening to dance the night away. However, he is not all that he first seems.

I'll offer no spoilers.

I will say that this book is heavy on imagination and good, clean, fairytale fun! There are certain rules in the kingdom about anyone even seeing the princess's bare ankles or their hair let loose. The king protects his daughters and their honor very well. The girls, however, have a hard time connecting with the king after their queen mother's death. There is a break in the family's relationship as they all respond to her death in different ways. It takes them awhile to figure out that each member of the family is hurting but they are expressing their hurt differently. This creates some rift between them which is pronounced throughout the book but all wrongs are righted in the end.

The biggest concern a person could have with this book is with Mr. Keeper who raises eyebrows. Actually, I thought his character so gloriously mysterious and creepy that I had a hard time going to sleep one night when I was trying to wrap this book up. I tense easily in reads and if you do, I recommend you putting this book down when it's still daylight outside. Even if you do know how the fairytale ends. Dixon really does a good job bringing her characters to life.

That's also one of my questions and complaints about the book though as well. Do you ever feel when you are reading a modern novel that you are reading the screen play of a movie? Modern authors seem to know the possibilities and very little is left strictly to the imagination. Her attention to detail and certain parts of the dialogue were perfect for film. While I wouldn't mind seeing this on film, I don't like thinking about the potential for that when I'm reading. It rather jars me from the storyline when I'm thinking, "And she's probably pegged Johnny Depp for this Mr. Keeper fellow because that would suit." Not saying she wrote intentionally for that purpose but it's written in such a way that I couldn't help but imagine such a thing and I dislike doing so when I'm in the middle of a fun story.

But, as I say, it's a terrifically fun story and I can't think of any reason not to recommend it - apart from the dark magic - to anyone. Even though the magic set me on edge a time or two, right wins and it was very clear that there was bad magic and good magic. Dixon distinguished between the two rightly, in my opinion, which allowed me to live in the story for a few days. Then, of course, I was sorry to leave it.

A must read, to be sure. You can thank me later. Heh.


Bluerose said...

This book really got me in the mood for fairy tale stories! I've read several since then, and really liked a few, but none compare to this one yet!
I still haven't read one by Edith Pattou, Robin McKinley, or Shannon Hale yet, though!

Jennifer Ekstrand said...

The story sounds vaguely familiar, I think I must have read The Twelve Dancing Princesses (or some variation) when I was younger. Hmm... my library has a copy of Entwined, I suppose one more book on my to-read list won't be too much.

Gidget Girl Reading said...

love the book cover will have to see if my library has that one.

might have to try to read it before I start my children's lit college classes (yep I'm old and going back to college :) well not old but might feel it around late teen's early 20's)

check out my book blog: Open Your World book reviews:

Alison said...

I just requested it from my library. Sounds like a book that is perfect for me right now since I seem to be unable to concentrate on anything non fiction for the time being. :)

bekahcubed said...

Consider this my grumpy little sigh-filled note.

This book sounds AWE-some. Oh for my poor sleeping hours which are rapidly dwindling as the TBR list grows!

Jen E @ mommablogsalot said...

Ohhh this one does sound really good. Yup, totally going to GoodReads to add it to my list of books I covet!

Lisa Spence said...

Thank you! :) I enjoyed it very much!

UK said...

This book was an unique treat to read! It combines the whimsy, magical elements of fairy tales with the more stoic and proper sensibilities of Victorian England, so obviously I fell in love with it! I love the world that Heather Dixon has created for the characters to live in. In this world, there is a dark element to magic, and it is viewed as taboo and out-of-reach for the average person.

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