Thursday, November 17, 2011


Title: Entwined
Category: Fantasy
Grades: 9-12
Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: 2011
Pages: 472

Their mother is dead, and their aloof, critical father wants nothing to do with them.  Stifled by mourning, Azalea and her eleven sisters cannot resist the enchanted world below their palace, the beautiful realm through the secret passage that allows them to dance, talk, and be themselves every night.  Their magic world is guarded by the Keeper, a strange and mysterious man who seems both charming and gracious.  Yet Azalea is suspicious.  As their precious small trinkets go missing, and troubling dreams of her mother haunt her, Azalea becomes convinced that Keeper is not what he seems at all, and that his purpose in keeping them with him each night is far more sinister than they realize.  When Azalea fails to comply, and a terrible magic releases Keeper into the world above, Azalea must turn to her estranged father for help to save her sisters and her father himself before Keeper’s ancient blood oath can destroy them all.

“Twelve Dancing Princesses” was an enchanting fairy tale, but not one with a lot of length or substance.  In Entwined, Dixon has created a masterful enhancement of this basic tale, fully fleshed with a complex and subtle plot that will keep many different types of readers entertained.  Lush, rich in detail, and beautifully wordsmithed, Entwined is part fantasy, part horror, and all surprise as the plot twists and turns and folds back upon itself, leaving readers uncertain as to what lies past the next page.  Perhaps Dixon’s strongest asset is her incredible characterization; she captures both the odd and terrible effects of grief and power, and combines them with the overriding love of a parent for his children to create fully realized, three-dimensional characters.  Even lesser characters like Lord Teddy, Clover, and Bramble are multifaceted and never stereotyped.  A riveting read, and by far the best retelling of this fairy tale this reviewer has ever encountered.


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