“Entwined” – Retelling A Classic Fairy Tale

Book Review : Entwined by Heather Dixon

Spoiler Alert!

Entwined is a retelling of the German fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Azalea is the eldest daughter and is thrilled to be attending her first ball, the annual Yuletide Ball. Her spirits are dampened because her mother, who is ill, will not be able to attend, and her younger sisters have been banned from even peeking in at the dancers because of last year’s fiasco. Azalea has promised her mother that she will always take care of her sisters. Little does she know that the Ball will end so dramatically and her promise will need to be fulfilled. The King enforces mourning upon the household for the next year, which includes, shrouded windows, the clock stopped, all the clothes dyed black and finally, absolutely no dancing. The old castle has bits of old magic that linger from the old evil king. Through the old magic, Azalea discovers a passage way into an enchanted pavillion watched over by the Keeper, where the sisters can dance every night. The Keeper has a price for the princesses to pay for their dancing, but it seems small in comparison to freedom to escape for a bit from mourning. While the King is away at the war, Azalea begins to suspect that she and the girls might be in trouble. When the King returns Azalea knows she is in trouble. The King has set out a riddle to be solved by prospective husbands, where do the princesses go at night to dance?

Adult Point of View

I enjoy the retelling of fairy tales. I particularly love it when authors bring new ideas and feelings to the original tale.

There were high points and low points in Entwined. Dixon has created a new mythology around The Twelve Dancing Princesses though there are no huge changes or revelations that will be a surprise. Didn’t you already guess that Keeper is evil? Can’t you tell the young noble with the brown eyes and rumpled hair will be the one to solve the riddle?

The author has also done a good job in not just down-loading tons of information at once, but rather paces out the information through the entire novel which helps to keep interest piqued as the tale unfolds. One of the high points were the 12 princesses, who have been named alphabetically, they are unique individuals and easy to keep track of because of their names. Bramble was a very brash and fun character, Azaela was in a dilemna of needing to be responsible and still needing to be cared for as a child. The King shows true emotional growth, which is quite realistic with a life overshadowed by trajedy and his overwhelming responsibilities. My favorite minor character would be the sugar teeth, particularly after their release from Keeper they gained my empathy.

There are two very big low points, first, an indeterminate time period. The language will feel “historical” at times and then odd words, which are post-Victorian are thrown in, such as, chum, ripping and other English colloquialisms (which are used by the character with a quasi-German last name, yikes!). The dances named come from the 19th Century except for the Zingarella, which seems to have been created in 1990, leaving me with a sense that I don’t know when this novel takes place. One other point to consider is that the waltz in the 1800’s was considered to be quite risqué unless the couple was married, because the partners touched each other closely, but in Entwined it is considered acceptable. When does this novel take place? Probably in the late 1800’s though the use of language, the Zingarella and Waltz could indicate different time periods.

(Heather, has left a valuable comment pointing out that the Zingarella has alternate spellings and is, in fact, a dance from the 1800’s. For further information reference, http://www.victoriana.com/Etiquette/ballroomdancinglessons.htm                       I love to receive information like this that I didn’t know!)

Second, the male characters, with the exception of the King, are very flat and predictable. If I was to point out a third low it would be the demise of Keeper, it was quite anti-climatic. A fourth point would be it seemed a bit strange that the girls wanted to dance upon learning of their mother’s death and at her funeral (though the point of the book is dancing princesses).

There is an undercurrent of cruelty in everything that Keeper does and says. I would still consider the violence to be mild, even though Keeper does physically hurt Azalea upon several occasions. There is no sex and actually a sense of respect between married couples which is nice to see in a modern novel. It is appropriate for 12 and up.

barely 3 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

Teen Point of View

I thought this book was entertaining. The thing I disliked most was the ending. It seemed to end too quickly to be an exciteful resolution. Some of the characters seemed flat or immature for their ages. My favorite characters was the Keeper, Azalea, and Bramble. The Keeper especially, the bad guys are usually not my favorite but I enjoyed Keeper.

2.5 out of 5 stars

-the Daughter

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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11 Responses to “Entwined” – Retelling A Classic Fairy Tale

  1. Heather says:

    All the dances in the book are from the same time period.

    • I believe I will have to disagree. For example the Mazurka and the Waltz became popular in the 19th Century as well as the Gorlitza and Polka, however, the Zingarella is a Greek or Israeli circle dance created in 1990. Another source does consider that the Zingarella could be an old folkloric Jewish dance, though I cannot find any information that indicates that Jewish dances were popular among the European aristocracy. If you have other information I would love to hear it and I will post it.

      I don’t mind if the dances come prior to the historical era of a book because it is still logical that they could be danced, and I don’t mind if the author wants to invent dances that don’t exist, like the Esperaldo and Entwine. It was the Zingarella that threw the historical time period off from my perspective. I appreciate your comments and have reworded the blog to give better understanding of what I meant to convey. Thanks.

  2. I am so happy to receive more information. I am going to add your findings into the body of the website for others’ viewing. I will look forward to more comments from you. Thanks.

    • Heather says:

      I’m actually feeling pretty bad about commenting. Thanks for being professional & kind.

      • I hope you don’t feel bad. I truly am thrilled when I am getting comments because it means people care about what they are reading about. I knew when I started this that there will be people who don’t agree with me and that is okay too.

        My goal is to have a good dialogue and to provide information so that readers can make informed decisions on what they read, in particular in regards for their children.

        Best wishes and I do hope you will provide more comments. Thanks, Michelle

      • Mercedes says:

        Does this wonderful book take place in England? I am doing a book report on it.

      • It’s been a while since I read this novel, but as I recall it is in a undisclosed fictitious country. I would agree that it feels like England. Thanks, Michelle

  3. Heather,
    I hope you don’t mind if I tell you one more thought.

    I wrote about 200 pages for a YA book a few years ago and as I’ve worked on it I realize my own writing is too immature, there are pacing problems and character development problems. Hence, I have not finished the piece nor have I worked on publishing it.

    I did enjoy reading Entwined and will read future works. It is by far better than anything I have written in this category.

    Also, though my daughter didn’t mark it very high she seemed engrossed in the story to me. I never change what she writes.

    I hope this information helps you to feel better,
    Thanks again,

  4. Mercedes says:

    Heather, I am doing a book report on this book and really enjoyed it. I was wondering if this took place in England though.

    • Heather was another person who submitted comments, and I don’t believe she will get your question. I responded that it is a fictitious country. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the novel.

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