Entwined by Heather Dixon (Published by Greenwillow, March 29, 2011)
Princesss Azalea is the oldest of twelve sisters. Although they are princesses, they are poor and their castle is not very elegant. Azalea hopes to fall in love, but as the oldest daughter, she must marry the man Parliament chooses to be the next king. Shortly after the birth of the youngest girl, Lily, their mother dies. They must now observe a year of mourning, which includes wearing black, putting dark curtains over all the windows, no parties, no going outside, and worst of all, no dancing. Their mother loved to dance, and dancing reminds the girls of her, but their father, who has become cold and distant, forbids it.
One day, by chance, Azalea comes across a secret passageway that leads to an enchanted pavilion where the girls can dance all night. The pavilion is watched over by the Keeper, who always prepares it for the girls' arrival. At first, Azalea and her sisters are just happy to have a place where they can dance again. But soon the Keeper becomes sinister and demanding and Azalea begins to fear him. Meanwhile, Azalea can't forget Mr. Bradford, a handsome gentleman she met at the last ball before her mother's death, but he thinks she is her sister and Azalea knows it is unlikely she will be able to marry for love.
As you may have already guessed if you enjoy fairy tale retellings, Entwined is a retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." This book is rather long and so it was a bit slow to get into at first, but I ended up really enjoying it. One of the reasons it is so long is the character development of the twelve sisters. Each girl has her own unique personality. The sisters are very close and it was touching how they comforted each other and tried to find some happiness after their mother's death. The world the story is set in seems to be based somewhat on Victorian England, with the beginnings of industrialization as well as the strict, complicated mourning customs. Recommended for readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings or historical fantasy.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.