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Dance of Shadows follows Vanessa Adler as she attends an elite school, New York Ballet Academy. Her mother is reluctant to allow her to go after the disappearance of her sister in that very school a few years earlier. Determined to find out the truth about Margaret's disappearance she follows the footsteps of her sister and tries to uncover the secrets which lie in the academy.
When I started the book I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it as I have no interest in dance but I found that although dance was a part of the book, the mystery gripped me more but the dances were actually a good part of the book because of the fantastic descriptions. There was never any dance terms I didn't understand.
I found the character of Vanessa was very realistic and liked that we saw a vulnerable side to go with the confidence. She is portrayed as a kind hearted girl who cares very much about her family and friends, never putting herself first. I liked the parts of the book with her mum as you could really understand how her mum felt and there bond was great to see as you rarely see children and parents interacting in a positive way in books.
Josef, the teacher, is a strange character and I was left wondering what his secret was throughout the book.
As I approached the end of the book the secrets began to come out and I found myself surprised at each new revelation. Although I had tried to work out the ending throughout I was nowhere close to the answers.
The last couple of chapters were very gripping and I thought the description of 'la dance du feu' was brilliant.
My favourite part of the book was the last few pages as I think the cliff hanger is very unique.
I was kept wanting more from the first page to the last and am now eager to find out more about solving the mystery.
About the book
Dance of Shadows is the first book in the series of the same name by Yelena Black. The book was published on 12th February by Bloomsbury and the book is 384 pages long.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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 . . .
What I thought
I really liked the idea of a book about dance. I hadn't read anything like this before and it sounded different and exciting. The book starts off really well, showing protagonist Vanessa moving to the New York Ballet Academy, the school her elder sister once attended. However, Vanessa's sister mysteriously disappeared and there has never been any explanation as to where she went or why she left the school. The beginning of the book showed huge promise for a story filled with secrets, mysteries and excitements.
I also really enjoyed the fact that this book was set around dance. I really don't think that there are enough YA books with this kind of setting and I think there could be potential for a lot to be done with the subject. Vanessa quickly makes friends with some of her fellow dancers although the disappearance of her sister is always playing on her mind, and puts strain on her friendships. I would have loved to have seen more scenes between this group of friends, especially in the dance studio or for there to be more talk about dance though.
While the book's synopsis seems to promise a good romance, this aspect of the book was extremely lacking for me. Although there is some romance throughout, it is never enough nor is it intense enough considering what is going on in the story. I thought that there were a few too many things going on in this department although none of them executed to their full potential. I think that as this is a continuing series, the romance aspect could pick up quite a lot in the second book but in this one, it just didn't work for me.
Then there is the paranormal aspect of the book, which threw me completely. I did know there was a twist in this story but I wasn't expecting what actually happened. Unfortunately, I don't think the paranormal aspect worked at all in this book. I really wish that this had just been a book about dance as the paranormal elements really ruined the story for me. I kind of wanted to give up after the twists had been revealed but I carried on hoping for the best, which didn't work out too well.
Dance of Shadows was really a mixed bag and while there were aspects of the book that I really enjoyed, there were also things that I hated.