I love me a fairy tale retelling, which is absurd because most of them are crap. But it’s like flan, and how every time I see a flan, even if it’s that low-fat flan that my roommate and I made in college that was basically an egg-white omelette with syrup, I’m still like Oh yes, FLAN. This is gonna be good.
And that’s because even when flan is terrible I still enjoy eggs and syrup and why the hell not, but when flan is GOOD then HOT DOG, people.
Entwined is a proper good flan.
So. The Grimms’ Twelve Dancing Princesses are all Tra la la, we dance and then WHAM their mother dies. Rule #8 of Fairy Tales, guys. Rule #12 being, of course, that their father is emotionally distant (or, where applicable, loving yet impotent) and so they all descend into proper, danceless mourning.
Except that when it was your dead mother taught you to dance, you dance, even if that means sneaking off to a magicked pavilion that you get to through a seekrit passage in your room. And you swear a magical oath never to tell, because some of you dancing princesses are only, like, five and cannot be trusted with seekrits, so that when things start going HIDEOUSLY WRONG you are magically bound from telling and then your oldest sister Azalea has to balls up and hero her way out of this shit.
And Azalea ballses up. Oh exceedingly emotionally sturdy and smart-decision-making and occasional-literal-ass-kicking heroines, why you so short in supply? More this, less simpering and being pretty so that a foxy dude comes to your aid.
And speaking of foxy dudes, a lot of times I feel like the Plot is just a platter on which to serve the Romance – if we can get Tab A into Slot B (metaphorically, because this one is exceedingly G-rated) then the plot and its sundry holes can go to hell. But the Romance in Entwined serves to make THINGS happen, and then only SOMETIMES because most of the time it is Over There In The Corner, Not Being At All The Point. It is a garnish, is what I’m saying, and hells yes.
Let’s be honest: I am a sucker for being amused and won over early on. If you have, on page 2, a Steward named Mr Pudding, who is also the ‘Royal Stableman, the Royal Boot-Blacker, and the Royal Things-on-the-High-Shelf-Getter,’ and then on page, like, 7, you are adding fucking sound effects, so that when Azalea kneels down her ‘skirts poofed about her. Poof‘ THAT is going to get me, and by halfway through, as the second-oldest Dancing Princess is fleeing the disgruntled King with the girls’ dancing slippers under her arm, hollering ‘Down with tyranny!…Aristocracy! Autocracy! Monocracy! Other ocracy things! You are outnumbered, sir!’ you are really just icing my Cake of Delight. I may SOUND all critical and stern, but I am an easy win, you guys.
My only beef is that this is Dixon’s first novel. RITE MOAR THEEENGS! *storms off to read something rather less engaging*