Author: Heather Dixon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: Available March 29, 2011 from Greenwillow books
Source: ARC from Around The World Tours
Description: Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And 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.
I Give This ...
I really wanted to like this book. But, I found it long and at times boring. And for some reason, I had the thought that it was a Cinderella type story. I should have realized it was the 12 dancing princesses (especially since it's one of my oldest daughter's favorite Barbie movies). Thankfully, I found it a fast read despite it's almost 500 pages.
Thankfully with 12 princesses, it's only told from one point of view. Azalea is the oldest. When her mother passed away, she was made to promise to care for her 11 younger siblings (including the baby who was born the night her mother died). I found it odd that outside the next 2 oldest (Bramble and Clover) that the other sister's didn't have much of a personality. I also had a hard time with their Father. He was such an odd character. I think he wanted the girls to see him as their father and not the King, but had a hard time switching between roles. He would do something sweet, and then turn around and yell and bark orders. I really thought it was strange that they are royalty, but poor royalty. How does that happen? They ruled people who had more money than they did. It was an odd fit to the story.
I liked the 3 different love interests for the 3 older sisters. They were so vastly different. Especially when it took time to sort out which sister they were actually interested in. Turns out the 3rd older sisters were easily confused (another point in the story I disliked). I think my favorite was Lord Teddie. He brought some humor to the story that was desperately needed. I would have liked to know more about Lord Bradford. Considering how important he is to the story and who he would become, you would think his character would have more depth.
The magic in the story was interesting. I liked the dark history that causes Keeper to be trapped within a dimension of the palace. He seemed so sweet and first, but I could tell there was something much more sinister lurking beneath. I wasn't surprised to learn who he really was. I like how he trapped the girls into making a bargain they didn't realize they were making. I enjoyed the ending and how the magic takes over the castle.
Overall, I'm not sure what to think. It had it's high point and low points. Despite being slow and boring at times, I'm not what you could cut out of the story. And since it was a fast read, I'm not sure it really matters.