by Heather Dixon
‘Come and mend your broken hearts here.‘
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.
Another version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale – a fairytale, honestly, I have never expected to love as much as I do now. And I do love it.
While elements of the fairytale are always similar across the board [this one, like Jessica Day George’s series, has a separate world for the princesses’ to dance in, and a beau who dons an invisible cloak to find that out], each take has a charm that makes it different.
Heather has given me a heroine to sympathise and empathise with in Azalea – a princess who is thrust into a position of responsibility just when she should be flirting and courting. And as she learns to deal with this responsibility, she learns more about herself and love.
The princesses are rather – wild. Though I love that. They act like children unaccustomed to the stern parent. There is a realistic aspect to their stiff relationship with the King. And each princess, despite having barely a few lines, has her own characteristics. They are all individuals, and it shows in the way they are painted.
And the gentlemen as well – the clues are laid bare for us to know that the oldest three have suitors, and each simple love story is fraught only with the obstacles the characters themselves place through miscommunication and misunderstandings. It is refreshing amidst the darkness of the Keeper’s realm.
There is a villain that gives me chills. I suppose because he seems so unassuming at first, despite the eeriness of his position. There is always a sense of more and wrong with him, and he freaked me out.
It was brilliant.
I enjoyed the novel thoroughly. Fresh and simple and engaging, it sucks the reader in. It makes you feel for characters you do not expect to feel for (the King, anyone? as well as the Prime Minister) and get invested in all their happy endings.
Dixon’s debut was definitely worth the buy, and I hope she writes more.