Entwined is exactly that: a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. That wasn't a fairytale I was too familiar with, so I was really excited to read this one.
Azalea and her eleven sisters are miserable in mourning following their mother's death. They must stay inside, dress in black, and worst of all they are not permitted to dance. When they discover a secret passage in the castle, guarded by a man known as the Keeper, they are delighted at the opportunity to sneak away in the night to dance. But Azalea soon realizes that Keeper is more than what he seems, and starts to suspect that their secret might be a very dangerous one.
Dixon nailed the big family atmosphere, spot on. I love how the sisters interact in this book, and the feeling of closeness between them. I really like how she portrayed their father, the King. He reminded me of the father from The Sound of Music--he's strict and seems cold, but it's only because he can't get past the pain of his wife's death. And he really likes rules and order. So the girls treat him more like their dictator than a beloved father. Watching him deal with that was pretty touching.
The mythology is well put together. It's darker than you might expect based on the blurb and cover, but to me that was a good thing. There are a lot of beautiful moments and several dark and scary moments. It's well balanced and well paced.
I loved the villain. He had dimension, development, and motivation: one of the more well written villains that I've seen.
The characters blurred together for me. Azalea felt indistinct. She isn't extraordinarily clever or brave or smart or funny. He most defining traits are her love of dance and her responsibilities as an older sister. Her character development consists of trying to be more and more like her dearly departed mother, which is perfectly understandable. I guess I wish she had discovered a little more about herself while she was at it. The other sisters have very simple personalities that you can define in one or two words each--Bramble is snarky, Clover is shy, Delphinium is dramatic, Ivy is gluttonous...and I honestly can't remember anything about the others. In the authors defense, I don't think I could reasonably expect her to develop twelve daughters in one book. But I wish the older girls were more memorable.
The romance(s) are very simplified. It's a fairytale, so I can mostly excuse that. And the couples in question do at least spend time together prior to declaring everlasting love--it isn't quite Disney circa Snow White level of simplicity. I would have liked a bit more, though.
If you love fairytale re-tellings, this one is worth reading. As a fantasy book it's decent. As a romance it's mediocre. But if a family oriented fairytale is what you want, this is for you. 3 stars.