(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
For centuries, the Keeper has been waiting within the walls of the palace. But now Azalea, eldest of the kingdom’s twelve princesses, has found the magic entrance to his hideout. Azalea, who thought her life was unfurling brightly before her, but then lost her mother. And her freedom. She, too, is trapped inside the walls of the palace by the strict rules of Mourning—no color, no sunlight, no suitors, no dancing. What is more, her father won’t stop treating her like a child. So the Keeper extends an invitation. Each night Azalea and her sisters may dance in his silver forest. He is dashing, and his magnetic eyes are always on Azalea. What the Keeper wants in exchange may cost her everything. But the Keeper should not underestimate Azalea’s temper, or her strength, or her love for her sisters and her kingdom.
Like many fairytale retellings, Entwined had so much promise but sadly fell short of it. The characters and the ending were most definitely Heather Dixon’s downfall in this novel.
Characters are so very important in novels, especially in fairytale retellings. The point of retelling fairytales is to bring more depth to them by having more detail in terms of setting and giving the characters depth. Entwined did sort of succeed on the former, but completely failed on the latter. Azalea had so much potential, but since the eleven other princesses were constantly stealing the attention with their ridiculous antics, it was hard to focus on her. The story is told in third person, but I think it would have been much more effective in first person point of view. That way, we could filter all the chaos out through Azalea’s eyes and she could have been a much better protagonist. As it was, we didn’t really feel all of the pressure she was supposedly under, her love for Lord Bradford, her confused feelings about Keeper and her responsibility when it came to taking care of her eleven younger sisters. Sure, Heather Dixon told us about all of these things, but I could not connect with Azalea as a character because I really didn’t feel it.
Entwined is set in a fantasy world mirroring England after it switched to a constitutional monarchy. While Azalea and her father the King are definitely royal, they do not have the kind of control (or money) you would see in an absolute monarchy. It’s even mentioned in the book that Parliament has much more money than they personally do. That definitely makes things interesting, but a little more world-building could have been in order to make the world of Entwined really come alive.
The plot was rather slow for the first half of the book, but things finally got interesting because Keeper’s character was wonderfully ambiguous…until the climax, which saw him turn into a stereotypical antagonist. His grand scheme for taking over was actually pretty half-assed (pardon my language) but I guess it was better than nothing. Good villains are so hard to come by but at least Keeper gave Entwined the sort of dark edge you would expect to see in a Grimm fairytale. Thank goodness for that too because the dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny for all the wrong reasons at times. Especially when Lord ‘Teddie’ was speaking.
I give this book 2.5/5 stars.