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... (From Goodreads)
*This review contains some spoilers regarding relationships, etc.
Best Bits: The premise of this one was really interesting. I love all things ballet (even though I was a tap and jazz girl), so I was eager to read a YA book involving it with some paranormal elements. Vanessa was, for the most part (see Nit Picks), a relatable main character. She has the feet for ballet, but her heart isn't in it. Why would she accept a spot at the prestigious New York Ballet Academy? Vanessa's sister went missing from the same school, and she's determined to find her. At points, the story reminded me a bit of Center Stage (my favorite ballet movie). Vanessa becomes close friends with some dancers, there's the girl who expects the lead who fits the part of the mean girl, and the director is a jerk. Not to mention a bad boy who readers (or viewers, in the case of the movie) are hoping their protagonist doesn't fall for.
The paranormal/mystery aspect of the book was done well. Although it was clear who some of the baddies were, there were two people who I wasn't quite sure about. I hoped that Vanessa could trust them, but my instincts aren't always correct.
Nit Picks: Please note that my nitpicks are based on the galley, and some things may have changed in the final version. Let me briefly explain my above comment about Vanessa. As a reader I was able to understand her motivation to attend the same dance school as her sister, but beyond that she didn't always make the wisest choices. As she begins to understand there's something sinister happening at her school she should limit who she trusts with information. Instead, she spills everything to a couple different people. That is the book equivalent of when characters in horror movies walk toward the creepy sounds/shadows/etc that ultimately lead to their demise. It just seems to me that as things started getting worse, she would want to guard her secrets.
There was some insta-love, which brings me to a general nit-pick in the books I've read over the last year or two. Insta-love and blind trust. I think I would have found it more interesting in this book if Zep had befriended Vanessa, and from there she would have had to choose whether to trust him, instead of basing it on a relationship that's inconsistent.
Dance of Shadows
By Yelena Black
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Received via NetGalley