Book Review of Entwined by Heather Dixon (No Spoilers)

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Fantasy/Historical/Romance elements
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I confess, I do often judge a book by its cover…at first glance, at least. I love this cover. It made me think of all sorts of romantic, sigh-worthy scenes, even though it isn’t a category “romance” per se. I just had to click on it and read the description. The blurb was what prompted me to get it.

I should say, this book is a retelling of an old German fairy tale called The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But I can’t compare the two, because I’d never heard of the original. Based on this book alone, I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. It is not without its flaws, and I found some parts early on dragged a little, but it is an endearing, page turning read nonetheless.

The premise is that twelve sisters, princesses living in an impoverished, but semi-magical castle, are mourning the death of their mother. They find  solace by sneaking off to dance every night, a practice strictly forbidden during the mourning period…and the cost that the “host” of their dance sessions, known as the Keeper, will exact for this privilege is terrible indeed.

For those who are staunch historical fans, this may not be the right book for you. While it has the definite flavor of  a historical, from the setting and language to fashions and courting practices, this is a “fantasy” world. As such, the precise era/time period is undefined. I do happen to enjoy historical fiction, but as an even bigger lover of fantasy, time period and how well it is reflected in the continuity wasn’t an issue for me.

The setting was a bit confusing at times, but it had a charm I immersed myself in readily. Think of a Dickens-like poverty combined with magic, and a decrepit castle like Beauty and the Beast. There were magical items, hidden passages, secret oaths, and a villain who, for the most part, offered a delicious blend of rakishly handsome but devilishly evil. That said, the plucky heroine Azalea (all the princesses are named after flowers-and in alphabetical order), while likable and often a responsible eldest sister, was impulsive at times, generally when the plot required it, and she is prone to accident after accident. She swoons from one too many fainting spells for my taste.

As this is based on an old fairy tale, there are scenes that are somewhat macabre and involve the villain doing harm to the heroine and others. It wasn’t a problem for me, but if that’s not your cup of tea, skip this.

All in all, the unfolding magical world, the Keeper, and side stories involving a string of comical to flawed-but-dashing gentlemen suitors kept me enthralled to the end. This one is worth checking out.



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