Entwined shares some similarities with Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. It is pretty much a straight retelling, that does not include elements from other tales. In this retelling, the 12 princesses are – again – all named after flowers. Ms. Dixon used a rather pleasant little conceit to keep them straight – their names are in alphabetical order. So, we have Azalea, the eldest princess, followed by Bramble and Clover. The remainder of the princesses have names ranging from Delphinium down to Lily.
Entwined is quite a long book, at 472 pages in length. As a result of the length, there is a lot of character development, and matches are made for the three eldest princesses. Each princess has a distinct personality. Azalea, the Princess Royale, is the responsible one, Bramble is wild and unpredictable, and the beauty of the family, Clover, is kind and self-effacing. Even the younger princesses get their own personalities in this retelling.
The story essentially begins with the Queen fading and dying. The King is devastated by the death of his wife, and handles it very poorly, essentially withdrawing from his daughters. His lack of sympathy drives a wedge between him and the princesses, and when he tells them that there will be no more dancing until the year of mourning is over, they rebel and find their way to a secret ballroom beneath the castle. The villain – the Keeper – draws and repels Azalea simultaneously, as he entices the princesses further and further into his web of deceit and magic.
One of the things that I liked about this story is that there is much less princess-saving going on in this book than in many fairytales. In the end, there is collaboration between the princesses and the heroes that results in the saving of the kingdom. But none of the older princesses are the type to sit around fainting and waiting for their prince to save them, thank you very much. They are quite capable of doing at least some of the saving themselves.
Dancing is a significant part of Entwined. All of the princesses love to dance, and Azalea is the most accomplished dancer of the group. Some of the dance names I recognized as traditional dances, some, like the Entwine, I did not and therefore assume that Ms. Dixon made them up. The magic blends well with the story. Overall, I really loved this retelling and would read it again. This may actually be my favorite of the four – which is saying something, because I thought that three out of the four were quite entertaining.