Entwined: The dance I should have sat out

The more that I read other people’s reviews for Entwined, the more soulless I feel for not liking it.

Entwined (2011)

Entwined (2011) is Heather Dixon’s retelling of  the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale by the Brothers Grimm (1812). The synopsis for Entwined is as follows:

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

I fear this might be a situation where I judged a book by its cover.  I fell under the spell of the gorgeous artwork and talked myself into believing that the book I held in my hands would be full of whimsy and wonder.

What I found was the fluffiest fluff that ever fluffed.  Unfortunately, Entwined is the kind of YA book that makes me wonder why in hell I still read YA books.  Here are a few reasons why:

1) The only adjective Dixon seems to know how to write is naturally.  Naturally this, and naturally that… “Would you like some tea?”  “Naturally!”  You know how when you say a word enough, it stops making sense?  Naturally, that’s how this made me feel.  Naturally.

2) The book description tells you that the sisters dance nightly.  What it fails to tell you is that this novel sometimes feels like an elaborate dance how-to with a plot loosely sprinkled around it.  As someone who’s experience consists of one year in Jazz dance (in 1997), hearing that Azalea put her feet in fourth position for a particular step tells me absolutely nothing.  Naturally, this kind of thing really started to detract from the story.  If you know a thing or two about dancing, though, this may not bother you as much.

3) There are twelve sisters.  It makes sense now that I know it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but while reading this book I began to wonder what the point was of having twelve sisters.  You only learn all of their names about 40 pages in, and most of them are so underdeveloped that they really just get named every once in a while so that you don’t forget they exist.  The only three you really get to know are Azalea, Bramble, and Clover, and the others are kind of just these annoying ankle-biters who are just always underfoot.  Even still, after 472 pages, all I can really tell you is that Azalea is the responsible one, Bramble is feisty, and Clover is bookish.

4) The sisters’ have the most asinine collection of names I’ve ever seen in one place.  They are named alphabetically after plants, because how else would you tell the fruit of your loins apart?  We’ve got Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Evening Primrose (Eve), Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and Lily.  I guess this would be the whimsy I was hoping for, but I just think it’s silly.

If you’re looking for a quick-read that wraps up nicely and doesn’t lead into another trilogy, then Entwined is probably a good one to choose.  I do think that Dixon’s blog is cool, and if she writes another novel that’s not a fairytale retelling, I might look into it.

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