Thursday, 17 October 2013

Review - Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)Title: Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows #1)
Author: Yelena Black
Published: February 2013
Source: Owned paperback

Vanessa doesn’t believe that her sister is a runaway. She wouldn’t leave her family behind without saying a word. The only way Vanessa can discover the truth behind her mysterious disappearance is to follow in Margaret’s footsteps, but to do so she risks her sanity and maybe even her life . . .

Vanessa Adler is one of the talented few to get a place at the acclaimed New York Ballet Academy. Between backbreaking rehearsals for the school’s production of The Firebird she desperately tries to find out what happened to her sister before she vanished. There are rumors that the pressure of performing the lead role, the same role Vanessa is now rehearsing for, drove her mad. Other girls have gone missing too. Can the role be cursed? Vanessa’s new relationship with leading-man Zep only seems to complicate things further. What is he hiding from her and can she really trust him? [Goodreads]

I really enjoyed this, which seems to be the opposite of quite a few reviewers! There were some parts I would have liked to have happened differently, but on the whole, I was captivated by the magic of this book. 

The dark tale follows Vanessa as she starts her first year at the New York Ballet Academy, a school her missing sister previously attended a few years ago. She’s an amazing dancer, but her sole purpose is to discover what happened to her sister who apparently decided to suddenly drop-out of the school and run away. Vanessa doesn’t believe this, and as the weeks pass by she realises that there have been a lot of other ballerinas that have strangely disappeared too – and most of them were supposed to dance the lead role in the school’s production of The Firebird. Things start to get even stranger when Vanessa wins the lead role in this year’s ballet, and she starts attending rigorous rehearsals with the stern choreographer, Josef. 
Added into this mix of mystery is Vanessa’s blossoming romance with the male lead Zep and her growing acquaintance with Justin, Zep’s understudy. 

I was totally intrigued by this book when I first saw it, and I was desperate to read it due to its centre around ballet. I find this particular world of dance fascinating and I’m always looking out for books that incorporate it in some way. As I started, I fell in love with the whole premise of moving to New York in the autumn and attending NYBA, especially as I was sat reading this in dreary England, with rain pouring outside. As events started to unfold and the paranormal twist became apparent, I became even more enthralled with the story, and I have to say, I couldn’t work out what was going to happen. Some parts I guessed at, but there was always so much more going on than met the eye. 

Character wise, my favorite was probably Justin, a boy so full of secrets I was urging Vanessa to go and sit down with him and make him spill everything, yet also carrying a certain amount of charm to keep me guessing about his feelings for Vanessa. I also loved reading the scenes with Blaine, one of Vanessa’s best friends – I wished there was more of them! He brought a brilliant light and humerous touch to the story. I have to say though that I never really warmed to Zep and his relationship with Vanessa. He seemed far too sure of himself from the beginning and I was repelled by that quite a bit. However, the rest of the cast held up the story wonderfully, each with their own piece of intrigue surrounding them. I only wish Vanessa was sometimes not so attached to Zep, and that she actually tried going out in NY to search for her sister a bit more. However, I didn’t feel like this detracted from the story much for me. 

The dancing was definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole book, and added an extra depth to the story. I loved Yelena Black’s descriptions of the ballerinas dancing and I felt like I could picture everything in my head even without knowing what most of the terms properly meant. 
The whole tale just felt magical, even before the paranormal events and I am definitely looking forward to the second book. I found the mystery compelling and the explanation to the strange events satisfying. Overall, this was a perfect book to escape into and it definitely lived up to my expectations.


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