Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you’re close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner’s heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .
Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister’s shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .
Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .
When I first heard about Dance of Shadows way back in October, I was instantly intrigued. While never having done ballet myself, I always really wanted to learn and have therefore always been attracted to ballet type stories, especially ones that seemed mysterious and alluring. Fortunately, I am happy to report that Dance of Shadows was a book that hit most of the boxes for me. It was a great read that is full of mystery and suspense and really gets your brain going into overdrive. A few things were obvious to me (but I read a lot of mystery books!) but overall it worked really well in keeping me entertained and turning the page to find out more, which is definitely what we like to see in a book!
As a reader we’re thrown straight into the mystery from the prologue as something odd happens to a dancer, and then, just while our brains are steel reeling, we’re pulled straight to somewhere else. It is the prologue that niggles at you throughout the book, the moment that seems to be just out of reach to your mind as you read the story and I really liked that about this book. It was a brilliant way to start this mystery until it eventually all comes together at the end. I really liked the story completely, there is always just enough mystery to keep the reader going, without not being enough – and there were a few subtle clues for the audience that our main protagonist missed, making it seem as though the author is trying to let us in on the secret before her which was nice. It was the ending, however, that really set my teeth on edge, there was just one thing that didn’t make sense to begin with and my mind needed the closure. Then it was mentioned and I was certain it was going to be sorted but when the book truly ended, that closure is left open, leaving a perfect space for the next book – so I need that book to be published now please?
If there was one character in this story that I truly liked it was Vanessa. There were parts of her personality that irritated me, but overall she was a likable heroine who wasn’t going to just accept everything and lie down flat. She did have a bit of naievity to her but at fifteen, who doesn’t? In that way, this part of her personality just helped her to seem more realistic. She was caring, protective, worried, and just really wanted to help the ones she loved more than anyone else and I really liked that about her. Zep was a character that I didn’t like. He worked perfectly in the story with his mysterious allure and all of his secrets and hidden flaws but I just personally got irked by him. It never made sense to me why he liked Vanessa, nor did his excuses seem very strong either but I did try to see him through the eyes of Vanessa. I admit that he had a brilliant place within the book, but he just didn’t work for me. Justin, on the other hand, was the perfect character in my eyes. He’s the “bad boy” throughout the book, the one who is always arguing with Vanessa and just being a bit of a creep, but I honestly couldn’t help but admire him.
This is Yelena Black’s debut novel but if she keeps up this alluring style then it is clear that she will have a good future ahead of her. She’s talented and while the book needed work in a few places, it shows that she does have what it takes to keep writing, and to write flowing and amazing stories. This story is captivating and is the brilliant start to what may be a very gripping series, with lots of different underlying subplots that made me need to know everything that was going on within that world. It is all in the third person which, I am finding, is not a very popular narration with Young Adult literature and so it was a nice, welcome change. Personally, I really cannot wait to read more work by Yelena Black who has quite easily become an author I would read without hesitation.
All in all, Dance of Shadows is an entertaining, tension-building, mysterious book that will grab you from the first sentence and spin you around like a ballerina until the very last one – and even then you’ll be left dizzy and ready to go again. It is enticing and captivating and one that I would recommend to anyone who likes stories surrounding ballet, or anyone who likes a good mystery. It has been advertised as being a lot like Black Swan and I have to agree. There are obvious differences but if you liked the mystery and suspense of that film, then you would really enjoy this book. And, as a non-dancer myself, I feel that this book does work even when you don’t really know all of the dance moves and dances that are mentioned. There is enough background knowledge (from films) available, and enough sub-plot around the dancing that the knowledge is not an essential part of the story. It is merely a setting, one that is used extraordinarily well. So, if you’re looking to read a great, mysterious story, this is the book you should be reading.
** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **