Entwinedby Heather Dixon
Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. "Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon's debut is both suspenseful and rewarding."—ALA… See more details below
Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. "Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon's debut is both suspenseful and rewarding."—ALA Booklist
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. 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. "Readers who enjoy stories of royalty, romance, and magic will delight in Dixon's first novel."—Publishers Weekly
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By Heather Dixon
Greenwillow BooksCopyright © 2011 Heather Dixon
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAn hour before Azalea's first ball began, she paced the
ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz. She had
the opening dance with the King . . . who danced like a brick.
But that was all right. She could add flourishes and turns
that would mask the King's stiff, flat steps. If there was
anything she was good at, it was dancing. And this year, she
was in charge of the ball, as Mother was too ill to host. Azalea
was determined it would be perfect.
Unlike the year before, when the Yuletide had ended in
a fracas. Too young to attend the annualand onlyball
the royal family hosted, Azalea and her ten younger sisters
gathered all the blankets and cloaks and shawls from the palace
and hid outside the ballroom windows. Azalea remembered
the frigid air, how the rosebushes scratched, and how they
had to huddle together for warmth. The ballroom radiated
gold through the frozen panes. The girls pressed their noses
on the glass and oohed at the dancers, especially Mother,
who danced like an angel.
They had fallen asleep right there in the rosebushes,
burrowing together like mice. When the girls were
discovered missing, Mother had stopped the ball and
made everyoneincluding the musicianssearch for
them. Prime Minister Fairweller had found them. Azalea
had awoken in shivers to see him holding a lamp over
them and frowning.
The girls had pelted him with snowballs.
They had lost two weeks of dance lessons over that
Great Rosebush and Snowball Scandal. It had been worth
it, they all agreed. Even so, Azalea hoped this year the
Yuletide would end gracefully. Her toes curled in her
dance slippers and her hands shook as she fluttered about
the dessert table in the ballroom, rearranging the platters
and directing the hired help as they brought in trays of
lemon custards and cinnamon candies.
Mr. Pudding found her just as snow started to swirl
outside the tall arched windows and the musicians had
arrived, tuning their violins in the ballroom corner. Azalea
knelt on the marble floor in a poof of silks and crinolines,
picking up strewn pine needles. Mr. Pudding was their
Royal Steward. He was also the Royal Stableman, the
Royal Boot-Blacker, and the Royal Things-on-the-High-
Shelf-Getter. With difficulty, he knelt to the floor.
"It's all right, Mr. Pudding," said Azalea. "I've got it."
"Right you are, miss, so you do," he said, collecting
the needles with gnarled hands. "It's only . . . your mother
wants to see you, miss."
Azalea paused, the needles pricking her palms.
"She does?" she said. "The King is all right with it?"
"'Course he would be, miss," said Mr. Pudding,
helping her up. "He couldn't be averse if your mum
Mother hadn't been taken with a quick, hard illness
that swept a person up overnight. Her illness had come
slowly and had lasted for years, robbing a bit of her each
day. Some weeks she felt better, better enough to take tea
in the gardens with Azalea and her sisters and give them
dance lessons, and some weeksmore weeks, latelythe
light in her eyes flickered with pain. Still, she always said
she felt better, and she always gave a room-brightening
smile. That was Mother.
With the baby near due now, the King refused to allow
Azalea or her sisters to spend tea up in Mother's room,
or even to visit longer than several minutes a day. Even
so, when Azalea arrived at Mother's room two staircases
later, breathless and beaming, it had the mark of her sisters
all over it. Mend-up cards with scrawled pictures graced
the dresser, and vases of dried roses and pussy willows
made the room smell of flowers. A warm fire glowed in
the grate, casting yellows over the flowered furniture.
Mother sat in the upright sofa, her auburn hair tussled
as always. She wore her favorite blue dress, mended but
clean, and rested a hand on her stomach.
She was asleep. Azalea's smile faded.
Secretly hoping the rustle of her skirts would rouse
Mother, Azalea arranged the mend-up cards on the
dresser, then chastised herself for hoping such a thing.
Sleep was the only peace Mother had of late. From the
table next to the sofa, the old magic tea set clinked and
clattered faintly, pouring a cup of tea in its pushy way.
Azalea did not care for that old silver-mottled tea
set. Several hundred years ago, before Eathesbury had
streetlamps and paved roads, the palace had been magic.
The reigning king, the High King D'Eathe, had gone
mad with it. He magicked the drapery to twine around
servants' necks, made the lamps flicker to life as one
passed, and trapped unfortunate guests in his mirrors,
never to release them. Azalea's ninth-great-grandfather,
Harold the First, had overthrown him, but still pockets
of magic remained in the palace. The old tea set was one
of these. It even had a pair of sugar tongs that snapped at
the girls' fingers if they wanted more than one cube. The
girls called them the sugar teeth, and Azalea guessed they
were quite as evil as their creator had been.
"If you wake her," Azalea threatened in a low voice,
picking up the full teacup and setting it on its platter, "I
will have you melted down into napkin rings, I swear it."
The teacup hopped back onto the sofa arm and
nudged and prodded at Mother's hand. Azalea grabbed
it and pinned it between the dented sugar bowl and
teapot. The sugar teeth hopped out of the bowl and bit
"Ow!" Azalea snapped. "Why, you little"
"Oh, goosey," she said. She opened her eyes and
pushed a smile. "Don't be cross. They're only trying to
help, you know."
"They're bullying you," said Azalea, whose spirits
rose in spite of seeing the pain in Mother's eyes. Mother
had a plucky way of smiling that deepened her dimples
and brightened the room. "I'll take them to the kitchen.
How are you feeling?"
"Mmm. Better. Where are the girls? I wanted to see
"Out and about. In the gardens, I think." In the
hustle and come-and-go of preparations, Azalea had lost
track of them. They hadn't even come to see her in her
ball gown. Mrs. Graybe and one of the maids had had to
help her dress in the kitchen, tightening her stays while
she traced her toes on the wood floor, impatient.
"Oh," said Mother. "Well. If they are having a jolly
Christmas Eve, then . . . I'm glad for it. Ah, but look
at you! Princess Royale! You look a picture print! The
green makes your eyes pop. I knew it would."
Azalea caught her reflection in the glowering tea set.
Auburn ringlets framed her face and her tightly strung
corset flushed her cheeks. From shoulder to waist she
wore a silver sash. She looked regal, and nothing like
"Everyone says I look like you," said Azalea shyly.
"You lucky thing! Do a Schleswig curtsy."
Azalea's feet took over and she dipped into a curtsy
before her mind fully realized it. It flowed from the balls
of her feet to her fingertips in one rippled movement
and a rustle of skirts. She disappeared into a poof of
"Masterful!" Mother laughed. "You're better than
me! Up, up, up. Very good! Ladies' cloaks, in the library,
"In the entrance hall. Yes, I remember." Azalea stood
and smoothed her skirts.
"Brilliant. The gentlemen will be mad for you. Dance
with every single one and find which one you like best.
We can't let parliament do all the choosing."
Azalea's toes curled in her dance slippers.
She hated the sick, milk-turning feeling that came
when she thought of her future gentleman. She pictured
it as a sort of ball, one that lasted a lifetime, in which
parliament chose her dance partner. And she didn't
know if he would be a considerate dancer, one who led
her through tight turns with ease, or if he would lurch
through the steps. Or worse, if he was the sort of partner
who would force her through the movements and scoff
at her when she stumbled at his hand. Azalea tried to
swallow the feeling away.
"I wish you could come," she said.
"Your father will be there."
"That's not the same." Azalea leaned down and kissed
Mother, inhaling the sweet smell of white cake and baby
ointment. "I'll miss you."
"Azalea," said Mother, reaching out to place her hand
on Azalea's shoulder. "Before you go. Kneel down."
Azalea did, a little surprised. Her skirts poofed about
From the end-table drawer, Mother produced her
handkerchief, a folded square of silver. Silver was the
color of the royal family. The embroidered letters K.E.W.
glimmered in the soft light. Mother took Azalea's hands
and pressed them over it.
Azalea gasped. Mother's hands were ice.
"It's your sisters," said Mother. "You've done so well
to watch out for them, these months I've been ill. You'll
always take care of them, won't you?"
"Is something wrong?"
"Of . . . course," said Azalea. "You know I will."
The moment the words escaped her lips, a wave of cold
prickles washed over her. They tingled down her back,
through her veins to her fingertips and toes, flooding her
with a cold rain shower of goose prickles. The unfamiliar
sensation made Azalea draw a sharp breath.
"I want you to keep the handkerchief," said Mother.
"It's yours now. A lady always needs a handkerchief."
Azalea kept Mother's cold hands between her own,
trying to warm them. Mother laughed, a tired, worn
laugh that bubbled nonetheless, and she leaned forward
and kissed Azalea's fingers.
Her lips, white from pressing against Azalea, slowly
turned to red again.
"Good luck," she said.
The King did not look up from his paperwork when Azalea
rushed into the library. Two flights of stairs in massive
silk skirts had left her breathless, and she swallowed the
air in tiny gasps.
"Miss Azalea," he said, dipping his pen into the
inkwell. "We have rules in this household, do we not?"
"Rule number eight, section one, Miss Azalea."
The King looked up. He had a way of frowning that
froze the air and made it crack like ice.
Azalea clenched her fists and bit back a sharp retort.
Two years! Nearly two years she had run the household
while Mother was ill, and he still made her knock! She
strode out of the library, slid the door shut with a snap,
counted to two, and knocked smartly.
"Yes, you may come in," came the King's voice.
Azalea gritted her teeth.
The King was already dressed for the ball, fine
in formal reds and silvers. His military uniform had
meticulously straight rows of buttons and medals, and
he wore a silver sash across his chest to his waist, like
Azalea. As he sorted through papers, Azalea caught
words like "treaty" and "regiments" and "skirmish."
As Captain General, he would be leaving, along with the
cavalry regiments, to help a neighboring country's war
in just a few short weeks. Azalea did not like to think
"That is well enough," he said when Azalea stood
before his desk. "One cannot run the country without
laws; one cannot manage a household without rules. It
"Sir," said Azalea. "It's Mother."
The King set his papers down at this.
"I think we need to send for Sir John," said Azalea.
"I know he was here this morning, but . . . something's
The image of Mother's lips, white, then slowly, slowly
turning to red, passed through Azalea's mind, and she
rubbed her fingers. The King stood.
"Very well," he said. "I will fetch him myself
straightaway." He took his hat and overcoat from the
stand near the fireplace. "Tend to the guests. They will be
arriving soon. And" The King's brow furrowed. "Take
care that your sisters remain in their room. I've made
them promise to stay inside, butit is them."
"You made them promise to stay inside?" said Azalea,
indignant. "Even Bramble?"
"But it's tradition to peek at the Yuletide! Even
"Tradition be hanged, Miss Azalea. I will not allow it,
not after the complete debacle last year."
Azalea pursed her lips. She didn't want the ball to end
like it had last year, naturally, but caging them up in the
room was unfair.
"That will do, Miss Azalea," said the King. "I've sent
goodies to your room, and a dissected picture for them to
piece together. They shan't be desolate."
The King turned to go, and Azalea spoke after him.
"You'll be back within the hour?" she said. "For the
"Really, Azalea," said the King, putting on his stiff
hat. "Is everything about dancing to you?"
It was, actually, but Azalea decided now wasn't the
best time to point that out.
"You will be back in time?" she said.
The King waved his hand in dismissal. "As you say,"
he said, and he left.
Excerpted from Entwined by Heather Dixon Copyright © 2011 by Heather Dixon. Excerpted by permission of Greenwillow Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I love reading this book. I was instantly immersed into this fantastic, believably written story.
This was an absolutely adorable book. The Fairbanks of the 12 Dancing Princesses has been my favorite Grimm's fairytale since I was a little girl and so I gravitated toward this to see how it could be fleshed out to a full-blown book-sized story. And I was pleasantly surprised that it was something that could be done fairly easily without much pomp or circumstance. Just plain, great storytelling. As the basis for the book suggests, there are indeed 12 princesses. I was amazed at how each one had her own distinct personality from bookworm Eve to swashbuckler Bramble to headstrong Delphinium to wise beyond her years Jessamyn to ever-hungry Ivy to sweet & sensible Clover. Azalea, the eldest and narrator, was the catalyst for our clear view of her sisters with much affection for their strengths and weaknesses. Each girl is multi-layered which is a truly daunting feat with so many characters. Not to mention the fact that there were about 12 other characters as well who all had their own unique temperaments and sets of motivations. Every character stayed in character through the entire story making this probably the largest cast in a book to remain consistent I have ever read. I was very impressed. The only drawback I could see was the repetitive use of certain phrases throughout the book. It seemed that at least once ever few pages Azalea was either squeezing something so hard it imprinted into her palms or she was clenching her fists so hard her fingernails cut into her skin. I kept hoping that while she searched for the magicked sugar teeth she might come across a pair of magic nail clippers that wouldn't take no for an answer. Then there was the King who's only response to anything was either to coldly mention rules or to suck in his cheeks. And if Azalea turned up freezing outside or fell into a frozen river all for the sake of being saved by Mr. Bradford one more time I was going to stop reading. With the masterful imagination she exhibited in so many other scenes, I was disappointed that Ms. Dixon could not come up with better ways to propel the characters through disagreement, frustration, and romance. I also didn't care for the description of dance steps, but that was a personal preference and not a flaw with the book. Without a dance background I find it hard to translate words to images in my mind where dance is concerned. But that was neither here nor there with regard to my enjoyment of the book. Over all Entwined was a fun, light read that I truly enjoyed. The drawbacks were minor against the marvelous backdrop of love for family, loyalty, and magic. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytales but bear in mind that there is a sweet innocence to this book that may not appeal to older teens if they are looking for the intensity of the majority of YA reads.
Magical, just magical! I just love this novel! Its beautiful cover draws you in. People say dont judge a book by it cover, but i say the cover is really an important factor. The book starts with a grand party and goes on from there. The is magic and mystery at every corner anda big suprise at the end. I love this book inside and out and would highly recommond it to preteens and teens. I really hope the author will write anothetbook!!!
This book is very good. It caught my attention from the first word. I usually don't enjoy books written in the 3rd person but I really liked this one. It was extremely entertaining and had me totally consumed. The word "said" was overused in my opinion but I just replaced it every once in a while with another word while reading. Overall, a spectacular book. If you are looking for romance, magic, and mystery then you have come to the right place!
wow where to start. this book was absolutely amazing! I got drawn in from the very beginning. Ever dance and curtsy felt as if I was doing them too. Beautiful writting!!
A great twist on an old fairy tale. I couldn't put it down. Would recommed as a great feel good book. A great combo of magic, romance and love for family.
A little slow but really good. Worth reading
First of all, the cover for Entwined is absolutely GORGEOUS that it takes my breath away every time. Isn't it dreamy and wondrous and exciting? A stunning how-do-you-do that will make you want to grab this book and fall in love with it! *inhales the frothy cover and sighs* Entwined takes a while to reach that familiar point where the fairy tale starts to take off, but even then it takes a bit of a stroll before both the characters and story explode into something heart-stopping. I can see how the slow pacing helps to examine the uncomfortable relationship between the King and his 12 daughters. No one seemed to be able to relay their love quite right - and they never had a moment where everything went in their favor. As an outsider looking in, I could see that the King meant well despite his stern words, many absences, and overwhelming grief. I could see that the princesses simply wanted proof of their father's love. I wanted to shake everyone as the hard feelings kept piling up and show them the bigger picture! The princesses are quite the handful - and I cannot imagine how difficult it was for Heather Dixon to keep track of who has a big stomach, who is most beautiful, who is in charge, and who might send very strongly-worded napkin notes to a dinner guest. I would say that the 3 older princess definitely stood out most, but there were endearing moments of the younger ones as they got underfoot of the eligible bachelors. The eldest princess Azalea bears a huge weight on her shoulders as she tries to keep her family together as promised to her dying mother, to prepare herself for marriage prospects, and to unravel the magic hidden within the castle walls. Entwined weaves a delicate spell around the reader, one that feels like an old friend but holds enough dash of unknown. This fairy tale is one of my favorites - Faerie Tale Theatre, anyone? Entwined was not exactly what I had hoped for, but I think it still gave a decent retelling that will appeal to fairy tale lovers.
This book was amazing! If you are like me and love magic, adventure, mystery and romance then this is the book for you!
I wasn't that familiar with the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but I knew enough to know that all of the key elements are there. This book was magical, and beautifully written, and an excellent retelling of the original German story. What I liked: 1) The girls' names. I don't know if they're original, but they seriously cracked me up. 2) The writing. It was so...refreshing to read a book with this refined language. I thought that the wording was so perfect and beautiful. 3) The symbolism. There is so much symbolism woven into this story and it works so well that I was just in awe. 4) The imagery. I keep describing this book as beautiful, but that is really what it was. I would love to live this story. What I didn't like: Really, there was nothing I didn't like. How do you find problems with a story like the 12 Dancing Princesses by the Brothers? For the reason that I rate it the way I do, I think I'd have to say that I wasn't as emotionally connected by the characters as I generally like to be. Instead, I was entranced by the beauty of the story. Overall thoughts: This was an enchanting retelling of a classic story. The language was so different than the books I usually read, it was elegant and refined. If you are a fan of fairy tales, I'd suggest checking this one out!
Oh, I really enjoyed this book! I've read other retellings of the Twelve Dancing Princesses (and liked the others as well)--and this one is quite unique. Twelve sisters who love dancing are plunged into mourning for a year when their mother dies. They were close to their mother. Their father, well. He's the King, not their father. They basically have no relationship with him. He's certainly not there to comfort them in their mother's death. And so, it's in direct defiance to him that they find a magic passageway in the castle and a strange man named Keeper who allows them to dance and ease the pain in their hearts. But--all is not as it seems. I loved particularly the development of relationships in this book. They change, in real, complete, and sometimes surprising ways. Considering all the characters, it was easy to keep them straight because they are all different, and because the lines of their relationships keep things clear. There was one relationship in particular that is not often found in YA books that was excellently done, and changed my opinion of a certain character completely from the beginning to the end. I would recommend this as a fun read to anyone who likes well-done retellings.
Beautifully told! And such a great deal! This book is easily worth 10 times the 99¿ that I paid.
It was a great book. I love fantasy and harry potter is my favorite series of all time. This is one of my new favorites! I look forward to reading more from heather dixon!
Entwined is the most beautiful, interesting, and heartpounding retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses I have ever read. The cover picture is as beautiful as the story itself! Unlike other retellings, Entwined brings new and exciting elements to the beloved story of the 12 Dancing Princesses. The plot has to be one of the most interesting and well thought out plots that I have ever read. There is so much going on in the story - mystery, romance, daring, and adventure.The characters are very well developed. Each brings their own element to the story. Although there are 12 princesses, I felt as if I knew each one by the end of the story. None of them got left out. Also, unlike other retellings, this story had humor twined into it, making it much more enjoyable to read and making the characters feel even more real. The description was also beautiful. I felt as if the characters were dancing right off the page. Although I loved this retelling, I suggest it for girls 12 and up. Some parts in the book where quite creepy and heartpounding. Although I was on the edge of my seat, younger girls might be bothered by the vivid descriptions and terrible villain. This book, I believe, will be cherished by any teen girl who still believes in the magic of a beautiful princess story.
One of the best fantasy/romance books. Fantastic plot, with a lot of suspence, romance, and fantasy.
It starts of slow then more and more crazy things happin. Then somethin huge happens tht changes the whole book the endins charming too.
Over all a magical and entertaining read! Perfect for days filled with lazy reading.
I always loved this story, my mother told me this one all the time. I love this book very much something I would let my children read if I had them!
I loved it so much that I could not put it down!!!! I loved the magic and storyline and romance. It was especially nice that all the different dances were explained. I'm the oldest of my brothers and I. This is exactly how an oldest sibling feels. It was so nice to read about the sisters being there and taking care of each other. Highly recommend this book to everyone that loves a good fantasy. Very clean and leaves you believing in happily ever after stories no matter what the story is.
This book was astounding..profusely amazing! This was PHENOMENAL! The 12 dancing princesses find a secret passage in their bedroom to a beautiful silver pavillion, and they dance their hearts out. The Keeper is happy to see them there, and welcomes them.. But as the book description says.. the Keeper likes to keep things. As more and more of the Keeper ['s personality] unravels, the girls find themselves stuck in a magicked stalemate. This book? Well, I would - no, I WILL - recommend it to anyone! It's fantastic fantasy with royalty, romance, slight mystery, and more, all tied up into an excellent book. The characters are wonderfully portrayed, and I felt every single emotion they felt. My heart was pounding and my whole self was submerged (is that the right word?) in the words. I may have flown through the end, but I did actually read it. *SPOILER* This book, as I SINCERELY, sincerely, sincerely hoped, ended with a happy ever after. I like happy ever afters. :)
Great spin in the old classic good clean writing
In a tiny kingdom there were twelve princesses. On the night of the smallest princess' birth, their hearts were broken and their mother taken too soon. After years of dancing and laughter, their castle is thrust into mourning--the once happy home darkened by black clothes and their father's grief. One day the princesses found a magical land of silver and music. A mysterious and dashing stranger known only as Keeper presides over this strange landscape where the girls can dance every night until the slippers on their feet wear thin. But nothing lasts forever and, when magic is involved, nothing is as it seems in Entwined (2011) by Heather Dixon. Entwined is essentially a retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" which was originally published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.* In this version the princesses are more proactive. The actual discovery of where the princesses dance also takes a slightly less prominent role to make way for the more sinister plot involving Keeper and his own agenda. This is a fun book ideal for anyone who enjoys reading about princesses and castles. Azalea, the eldest, is an endearing heroine as are her sisters. While Bramble's blunt nature and rash temper can wear thin the girls are all, really, very charming characters. Each princess is named after a flower (alphabetical order no less) which actually works quite well with the story and makes for a cute touch. With so many characters some do get lost in the shuffle or boil down to broad characterizations but again with so many characters at the center of a story that might be inevitable. The story is original but by the end a lot of things are happening to Azalea instead of her being proactive. The lack of communication between the sisters toward the end of the story also felt unconvincing when they all appeared in every scene. (And some aspects of the love story angle felt thin.) Dixon's world building is solid. The castle with its dingy appearance and lackluster furnishings comes to life with her descriptions. The history behind the castle and the monarchy is well-presented and even the country's relationship with other nations is mentioned although not in great detail. As with the characters I had this nagging feeling that while I loved what was on the page, I also wanted more. One of the things I really liked about this story was the focus on family. As much as the dancing is a part of the story this is really a book about a father reconnecting with his daughters and a family moving on after a terrible loss. Being able to get that kind of book wrapped up in a fantasy makes this book something special. Entwined is an entertaining fantasy that will draw readers in with a familiar premise only to deliver a story that is ultimately surprising and appealing.
I loved this book! The twist on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses is really cool. I fell in love with the wonderful characters! I hope Heather Dixon writes more books :)
I LOVE THIS BOOK IT WAS SO GOOD............I WANTED THERE TO BE MORE WHEN IT ENDED!!!
This was a good book- very fairy tale, which is not something I usually read. It was hard to follow all of the dancing steps because I don't dance at all, but it was still fun to read. This book would be absolutely perfect for teenagers who love to dance, but that doesn't describe me at all and I still liked it, so I would also recommend it to moms who just like a good story :)