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Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Todays book review is kindly provided by Jami Zehr, who runs the wonderful blog Absurdly Nerdly. Jami has previously appeared on RIASS with an excellent review of The Night Circus

entwined heather dixon Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined is the debut novel of Heather Dixon who writes with quiet authority, her words flowing together beautifully: I was instantly hooked. It is the story of twelve princesses who lose their mother to death, their father to war, but refuse to lose their life of dancing to restrictions based on silly traditions. I was pleased as punch when the twelve girls had specific personality traits associated with their birth order. Sibling interactions can be rather hard to write, but Ms. Dixon knew what she was doing as she herself grew up with ten siblings. The story is richer for each sister. Entwined'is a cornucopia of delights, dancing, and magic

After their mother passes away and their father leaves to fight a war, Azalea and her eleven sisters are left in a great big barren castle to observe a year of mourning. This means no more outings, except for church, no more sunshine as curtains are permanently drawn, but most importantly, no more dancing. And dancing is Azalea's favorite thing to do, so when she discovers a secret passage in the castle which leads through a forest to a great big dance pavilion where lively instruments play without the aid of musicians and dancing couples fade into the background as The Keeper steps from the shadows and welcomes the sisters Azalea believes she has discovered a life saving option. But, does The Keeper really just appear for the benefit of the mourning princesses, or does he have other more sinister motives?

I knew I was going to enjoy Entwined'when I opened its pages and read Ms. Dixon's explanation of The Entwine, a dance also known as the Gentleman's Catch. I love historical young adult fiction, especial those stories infused with some magic. Entwined'promised to be a delightful read, and it lived up to my expectations. I enjoyed Azalea's coming of age story. How she copes with loosing her mother, caring for her younger siblings, dealing with her gruff father, living up to people's expectations as the princess whose husband will take the crown title, and her discovery of the dark side of magic.

While there were some damsels in distress moments at various points in the story, Azalea is overall a bright girl and the heroine of her own story. Did she act like a foolish teenager at points making me wince and yell at the book? Yes. But that is my own special neuroses, and the bane of fellow train travelers riding home next to me at night. I see the purpose of such plot points, even while I growl in public. I wish Azalea had not been so naive, but I guess that is her due as princess and teenager. I could tell The Keeper was the bad boy personified from a mile away. I guess Azalea could not because she spends her time dancing and not reading historical young adult novels.

However, this small character flaw did not ruin the book, and I have recommended Entwined'as a fun delightful read to everyone who will listen to me talk about twelve princesses, ballrooms, and magic. What I enjoy about young adult novels is love story as subplot, which only ever leads up to a kiss. Instead, the author spends time and energy writing a beautiful story arc, and this story flows as beautifully as a ballroom dress. Entwined'is full of magic, in the form of sisterly love, debut dances, billowy dresses, and secret stairways. If you enjoy historical young adult fiction with a twist of magic, you should read this book. Ms. Dixon has written a lovely piece of work and it is worth getting lost in her universe even if it is just for the span of The Entwine dance.

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