Entwined is (another) adaptation of the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I will preface this review with a couple of comments:
- I do read very quickly, so had this one finished in the span of one evening, which meant that I didn’t get bogged down by the slower start. Be warned, this book is quite slow in terms of action for quite a while. I liked it despite the lack of action because I felt that the character development and interactions more than made up for the slower pace.
- The backdrop is a fictional but seemingly pretty traditional patriarchal society. (Although it seems that daughters can inherit the right to marry the next King, it is also clear that Parliament holds a lot of power and that women DON’T). Feminists be warned.
I LOVED this book (though I can understand how it might not be for everyone).
Azalea’s family is thrown into mourning by the loss of her mother. The Queen’s death leads to a rift between Father and Daughters, who push each other away at a time they need each other the most. Feeling abandoned and unloved by their father, Azalea and her sisters are motivated to find a way to dance in memory of their beloved mother. Dancing, is forbidden while they are in strict mourning. When Azalea discovers a magic passage, it seems that all their wishes have come true. They meet The Keeper, a mysterious character who offers them free use of his glorious Pavilion for dancing every night. The girls welcome the reprieve from dreary mourning and leap at the chance. Little do they know that The Keeper has ulterior motives in mind.
Family was a strong theme in this book, one that I felt tied together the story beautifully. I felt like the real tale was not necessarily the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, but more the story of a family trying to cope with loss and struggling to understand each other. The King reminded me of my own dad and perhaps that is why I liked him so much. The King seems to be a very strict, unfeeling, and humourless man on the surface, but he has hidden depths. For me, a big part of the appeal of this book was seeing Azalea and her Papa come to understand each other. As a reader, I understood the King a lot faster than Azalea seemed to. That slow coming together was my favourite part of Entwined.
- The Princesses are named alphabetically after plants, which I think is hilarious. Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Evening Primrose (Eve), Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and baby Lily. Most of them have pretty distinct personalities which make them easier to tell apart. I also liked that they are not all grown up (much more realistic) and that as a lot they are mischievous and prone to Scandal.
- There is a bit of a love story and not just Azalea gets her happy ending.
- Azalea is a bit prone to fainting, but still qualifies as a strong female character in my opinion because she fights for what she believes in AND tries to save herself / her sisters / her father at the end of the day. Despite the fainting, I thought she was a feisty, passionate and interesting character who didn’t wait around for other people to rescue her.
- There is just enough magic to make the Dancing Princesses part of the story work – but at the same time it doesn’t override the story.
- They are not rich Royalty – a funny twist on the story but one that I enjoyed. Their livelihoods and keeping are at the whim of Parliament. This creates its own problems and I thought added an interesting element.
- I laughed and cried over this book (out loud!)
- I thought it was a clever adaptation on the Twelve Dancing Princesses story!
I give this one a 5 / 5, and look forward to re-reading it again in future.