Paranormal Young Adult
Available March 29th
Received from publisher for review
Princess Azalea and her eleven younger sisters love to dance. Their mother taught them a variety of dances and steps, and in the wake of her untimely death it's the only thing that helps them through their grief. Their father the King is dealing poorly with the loss of his wife and has been called off to war, seemingly glad to leave behind his twelve reminders of what is now lost to him.
Because the entire home is in mourning, the girls are made to wear black and forbidden from dancing for an entire year, but as their palace has a bit of magic pulsing through it, the girls find a secret passageway leading them through a silver forest and to a beautiful pavilion all set up for their dancing. In this passageway they meet Keeper, a man forced to live in this magical in-between world by the ancient High King, a man rumored to be able to trap souls after death.
While at first Keeper seems welcoming and the girls begin to deal with the pain of their loss, it soon becomes clear there is more to Keeper than a man just looking for a bit of company in his lonely existence. While Azalea has her suspicions, she's distracted from them by the return of her father, the anger over his treatment of her and her sisters prior to his departure rising to the surface. As father and daughters work to build a connection, and suitors for the three eldest daughters come calling, Keeper lies in wait, patiently biding his time before his true intentions can be known.
Full of sweetness and romance and positively radiating charm, Entwined is a story that appeals to us on a variety of levels, luring us in with a bit of humor and whimsy, but utterly enthralling us with its enchanting portrayal of sisterly affection and father/daughter relationships. Between these covers we find ourselves entangled in not only the day to day life of a family dealing with profound loss, but also in the mystery and allure of just a touch of magic–grounding us in the realism of family dynamics while simultaneously stirring our imaginations with fanciful possibilities. Reading this tale is like sitting down to a lush and savory meal where dishes that appeal to every part of our palettes are spread before us in offering, and we are tantalized with various flavors all at once, experiencing each one in rich detail and smiling soundly as we eagerly indulge.
Azalea is a young woman for whom we easily care as she is saddled with the burden of looking after her grieving younger sisters while also dealing with her responsibility as future queen, facing the prospect of a parliament-arranged marriage as opposed to one entered into with love. She admirably stands for all her sisters, boldly questioning and admonishing the King when he pushes his daughters away in bereavement, speaking her mind and heart even as the sharp pain of her own loss constantly pricks at her from all sides. When the house is left in a darkness to match the girls' wardrobes, Azalea assumes the responsibility of lifting the spirits of eleven impressionable young girls, helping them to remember and celebrate their mother through their shared love of dancing. She keeps all our hearts light enough to temporarily banish the encroaching darkness as we together recover from the painful absence of both parents and revel in the sometimes tenuous but always unbreakable bond between these sisters.
One of the more fascinating aspects of this tale is the various relationships between not only the girls, but also the girls and their father, as well as Azalea, Bramble, and Clover's individual relationships with potential husbands. Reading on as the King eventually begins to see the error of his ways and seeks to make amends for the deep and staggering pain his emotional and physical abandonment caused is an absolute pleasure. Each tentative step at forming a connection to his daughters when before he left such intricacies to his wife sends welcome warm shivers down our spines, that blissful heat seeming to flow back into him as though the pages themselves are a conduit between us, and we wish our wholehearted encouragement might give him the strength to fill the gaping hole left by the girls' mother with the laughter and smiles etched across twelve loving faces. Into the humorous and and complex familial bond Ms. Dixon also artfully weaves a subtle touch of romance, just enough to quicken our pulses and flush our cheeks, but not so much as to become the sole focus and take us away from the slowly healing relationship between father and daughters that has us so captivated.
Entwined is a cute story, not one full of action that has us gripping the pages white knuckled, but one that draws us in nonetheless, the subtle changes taking place in each individual character as they struggle with a very personal loss and attempt to remedy the monstrous tear in the fabric of their family a heartwarming drama we can't help but adore. Pick this one up if you enjoy a little magic in your reality, a little humor to alleviate your pain, and a little sweet giddiness to your romance.