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Review: Dance of Shadows

March 18, 2013

Title: Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Format: eGalleyDancing 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 . . .—via Goodreads

At this point, you guys know me. And you know that this books sounds right up my alley—ballet, mystery, red heads, missing sisters—YES PLEASE.

And while I did end up enjoying Dance of Shadows, it took a long time for me to enjoy it. About three quarters of this book is a big, frustrating, seemingly-going-nowhere mystery. In fact, I thought that I’d get to the last page and it would say FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN BOOK 2!

Luckily, that did not happen.

But I did spend a lot of time thinking, “WHY WON’T VANESSA JUST TALK TO PEOPLE?” Because, as it tends to happen in mysteries, talking to people often solves problems. But, I guess if people got over their pride and concerns that they’d look completely insane early on, most mysteries would be more novellas than books.


Once the game is set and we finally finally finally get clued in to what exactly the hell is happening, this book is all of a sudden a little Whedony. Obviously that made me squeal with glee on the train home, which in turn made people look at me weird, but I don’t care. But seriously, Dance of Shadows feels like it could be one of those off-A-plot episodes of Angel in which Fred infiltrates a ballet company to figure out what exactly is going on on the inside. And there would OBVS be a hilariously awkward scene in which Angel has to put on tights and dance while Cordelia looks smugly on from the wings. Oh, wishful thinking.

For those of you who are really into ballet and get upset when a book promises to be about ballet and then only uses one or two terms that end up being plié and arabesque, this book will not disappoint. Ms. Black clearly knows ballet, is comfortable with the terms and vocabulary, and isn’t concerned if those terms are polarizing. Which made me a happy little ballet nerd.

Though I found a lot of this book to be highly frustrating while reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it in hindsight. Once you have the pieces and understand what all is happening, the clues are just GLARING at you from the page and it all makes fun, dancey, demony sense.

So if you’re in the mood for a dance-centered mystery that you don’t want to try and solve while you’re reading it, Dance of Shadows is the perfect choice.

Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)

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