Entwined by Heather Dixon
Isn't this cover gorgeous? The story inside is just as wonderful. In re-telling The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Dixon brings to life a magical story, though at times dark and unsettling.
When her mother dies, after the birth of the newest daughter, and a long illness, Azalea, the eldest and heir to her father's throne, promises to watch out for her sisters. When the family goes into mourning, and the girls are no longer allowed to dance, Azalea and her sisters deeply feel the loss of their favorite activity. Here's where I confess I skimmed the dancing scenes and explanations of the steps - if you're a dance fan, you'll love this added info, and if not, it never feels distracting to the story.
When the girls find a secret passageway off their bedroom that leads to an enchanted pavilion presided over by the Keeper, it seems they have found the perfect way to continue their dancing. The Keeper, however, turns out to have a hidden, and dangerous, agenda as dark magic comes into play.
Besides the engaging storytelling, one of the things I really liked was the subtle humor, which I wasn't expecting. One example:
Azalea stacked the empty bowls together so hard they knocked together. She told herself she didn't have favorite sisters, but if she did, Delphinium would not be one of them. (p. 67)And, in the following example which takes place after Azalea has fainted:
"What happened? said Clover, wetting a cloth in the basin, and dabbing Azalea's face.This was such a satisfying story - Azalea's efforts to thwart the Keeper and protect her sisters, the ending, the development of the relationships. Highly enjoyable.
"She had a sort of fit," said the King. "I think her underthings may be laced too tightly."
All the girls, including Azalea, blushed brilliantly.
"Sir," said Eve. "You're not supposed to know about the U word!"
"Am I not? Forgive me." (p. 292)
Reviewed from library copy