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The School for Good and Evil
Soman Chainani
Entwined - Heather Dixon Between the beautiful cover and the fact that I knew it was a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales (The Twelve Dancing Princess), I thought I was set. But ah! I made that mistake before with "The Thirteenth Princess", didn't I? Okay, to be fair, it's not as bas as "The Thirteenth Princess" but it is by no means as good as Jessica Day George's "Princess of the Midnight Ball".

The setup is as follows: Twelve princesses are forbidden to dance because they are to spend the year in mourning for the loss of their recently deceased mother. However, dancing is their favorite thing in the world, so when they discover a secret magic passage that leads to a place where they can dance all night long, they decide to break the rules.

I have some manjor and some minor issues with the book. Let's start with the minor ones. The names of the girls were ridiculous. Granted Jessica Day George used the flower naming convention in her version as well, but I didn't mind that as much, because they didn't feel forced. The names were all pretty normal names for girls. Is it contrived, sure. But it still worked. Here... with names like "Bramble", "Goldenrod", "Evening Primrose" and "Kale" I couldn't help but be like "Really...? She really couldn't think of better flower names that begin with B, G, E or K?" I mean really...who would name their kids that? It came off as really forced. Furthermore, I don't think Dixon knows much about gardens at all considering she mentioned lilacs growing in mid-late summer and stuff such as that. Is it nitpicking? Yes, but if you are going to try to emmerse us, at least try to be accurate.

Now the major issues. This book is a good 150 pages too long. I can't believe her editor didn't get her to chop more off. The booked dragged so much and was filled with pages upon pages of superfluous content which often repeated itself. It slowed the pace of the book to a crawl. And speaking of repetition, Dixon seems to like to repeat very unneccary statements (How many god damned times did she have to tell us about Azalea digging her fingernails into her palm???) in the same way, whereas she'll leave other information out or won't mention it again until way later to the point you are going "What the hell does this R.B. stand for?". Now we come to the characters themselves. To be honest, I felt they were all very shallow and one dimensional. She gave them quirks, but that's all they have. There is no depth. Just quirks and an obsession with dancing. The whole obesseion with dancing seemed to make them appear very vapid, uninteresting and void of any other personality traits. And then the whole time, one big thing that either wasn't explained or I missed entirely... why exactly was the Royal Family impoverished? And why was that never mentioned. All we hear is the girls whining about how poor they are (despite living in a palace and being princesses). This made no sense. What was going on politically to make the royal family poor? The politics of the world are vaguely mentioned but not really explained to the readers. In addition to this, her descriptions (specifically in "action" scenes) were jumbled and confusing. She doesn't have a strong command of eloquently describing whatever scene she is trying to set up. I feel like she has a good idea of it, but she's not letting us in.

The good stuff? Well.. it was cute, I suppose. I loved the title and the whole idea of the dance "The Entwine". That is a great device. Loved it. Unfortunately, that alone can't pull everything together and make me overlook all the blatant flaws.

I would reccomend Jessica Day George's "Princess of the Midnight Ball" is you want a more captivating (and better written) retelling of the fairy tale.