Author: Heather Dixon
Published: 2011 by Greenwillow Books
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.
"An hour before Azalea’s first ball began, she paced the ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz."
Having recently read and reviewed Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, I already had some expectations for this adaption. While, yes, the main plot ideas are the same, I was pleasantly surprised to see great differences.
After the twelve princesses’ mother dies, they have to go into a period of mourning, wearing dark clothes, having no visitors, and (worst) no dancing. Soon though, the girls discover a secret door that leads down into a silver forest and to a magnificent pavilion. Down there lives a man known as The Keeper, who is trapped in this underground world. He lets the girls dance, and they eagerly come down every night, in complete secrecy, to dance the whole night through. However, soon it becomes apparent that The Keeper had other plans all along. He becomes more and more determined to leave his world, and get back to the real one. Azalea and her sisters must stop him, but that’s hard since they have sworn not to tell anyone about the door.
The Keeper was a complete creeper, and I have no idea why the girls didn’t pick up on his weirdness quicker. They did eventually decide he was up to no good, and I think they knew before that, but they just loved being able to dance, so they convinced themselves they were misreading him. He’s plotting the whole time to get back to the real world and to take power, but he needs help. So with the (false) promise of getting their mother back, he makes them help him.
All the different settings: the castle, the garden, the underground world, and even the glimpses of the world outside the castle grounds, were fantastically descriptive. I could easily picture the world created by Heather Dixon.
My only complaint is the dancing. I know, I know. “The dancing the whole point of the novel!” And I get that. I understand the love of dancing the girls possessed. But couldn’t the descriptions of the dancing have been less lengthy? I felt like a lot of “book time” was taken up with the girls’ many different dances at night.
The whole “Keeper wants to take back control in the real world” plot aspect was completely unexpected, and I found the whole ending action-y moments confusing, but overall I enjoyed the darker tones, the beautiful romances of the three eldest girls, and the vivid setting descriptions.
Heather Dixon has created a wonderful adaption, one with a truly sinister antagonist, and also with adorable romance. (and a super beautiful cover!!)
Content Warnings: Mister Keeper is creepy, and gets quite forward with Azalea, but other than that, I saw nothing objectionable.