Release Date: March 29, 2011
Read it in: 4 days
I LOVED this book! Where to begin? This was just an incredibly delightful read, from beginning to end. The narration, the dialogue, and the characters made this so enjoyable, and I found that I was giggling to myself over the quirkiness and whimsical charm of the story throughout.
Azalea ("Lea" for short-- how cool to read a book with my name in it!) is the oldest of eleven sisters who live in an old castle with their father, the King of Eathesbury. Even though Azalea and her sisters are princesses, the kingdom is poor and their castle is run-down. As the future queen, it is up to Azalea to find a suitable husband. Her father brings in many potential suitors, but Azalea only has eyes for the young Mr. Bradford, an awkward but adorable apprentice from town. (Ah! Mr. Bradford was TOO cute :)
Unfortunately, Azalea has bigger problems to worry about than just finding a husband. The princesses' mother recently died and now the entire house is in a year of mourning for the late queen. All of the things that once gave the princesses life and happiness are taken away- colorful dresses, walks in the garden-- and most importantly-- dancing. Without dancing the girls are perfectly forlorn and miserable.
But Azalea discovers a secret-- long ago, the castle had been magic, and traces of it still linger in the walls. Azalea learns of a secret passageway that takes her and her sisters to a magical silver forest with a pavilion, perfect for dancing. There, they meet Mr. Keeper, who watches over the forest-- and them. But all is not what it seems, and Keeper soon shows his true colors. Now it is up to Azalea to save her mother's soul, her sisters' lives, and the entire kingdom, ending once and for all the dark magic kept alive for so long...
Entwined had all the elements of a great fairy tale-- magic, suspense, romance, humor, and characters that jump right off the page. I loved Azalea as the heroine, and her eleven little sisters-- all named alphabetically after flowers-- were so cute! Even though there were eleven of them, Dixon manages to give them all unique and individual characters. I loved her sense of humor throughout the story as well-- all the quirky little things, the English-style dialogue with phrases like "I say!" and "corking good" and "Tut tut!" just made the book so much fun to read. Oh, and the magical tea set was hilarious. This is perfectly juxtaposed with the incredibly creepy villain, Mr. Keeper-- there were moments in the book where I actually got goosebumps from the sheer creepiness of this character! (Note: if you've ever seen the movie Coraline, the tones were similar to that-- cute with a mix of very dark creepiness.)
The only little complaint I have is that the ending was slightly anti-climactic-- I would have liked if there was a little more action there, but other than that, all the strings were neatly tied up and the story ended with a really sweet, happily-ever-after. This truly was a great book, thoroughly fun and entertaining, that provided a perfect mix of magic, suspense and lighthearted fun!