Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Book:  Dance of Shadows
Author:  Yelena Black
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Date:  February 12, 2013
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

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 . . .

Initial reaction
This author MUST be a dancer because only a dancer could understand how transcendental that moment of dance can be.

Cover story
GORGEOUS!  I love the title because it’s mysterious and the cover is absolutely beautiful.  Every girl who has ever dreamed of becoming a ballerina and even those of us who have worn those gorgeous costumes will appreciate this cover. 

What’s the Story?
Wow! There are some scathing reviews of this book, but I absolutely loved it. I couldn't put it down. I thought that the premise was intriguing, the story was mysterious and engaging and the descriptions of the dance were amazing. Vanessa's naïveté is totally believable to me because she is a 14 year old girl. As the mother of a 14 year old girl, I have to tell you that they live in the town of Gullible in the state of Pretty Dumb. At least they do when it comes to dealing with people, especially boys. So that never bothered me.

The dance premise is what attracted me to this book.  I have been a dancer most of my life and I have taught dance for years and years.  I love dance, so when I saw this book mixing two of my favorite things in the world, dance and paranormal, I just couldn’t pass it up.  I was worried when I started to see some negative reviews of it, but I can’t believe those people read the same book that I did!

One of the things that I loved is exactly how realistic all the dance descriptions were.  I read a review where the reviewer was disgusted by the fact that the author described how good the boy smelled when he was sweating.  I have to say that dancers probably view sweat and feet a lot differently than the normal person.  Eventually, you become used to the smell of sweating at a rehearsal and the smell starts to remind you of something you love.  Scientists say that the sense of smell is actually our strongest sense in terms of triggering memory and reaction to memory.  I believe this because every time I smell diesel fuel in rain, I remember my first ever trip to Paris, so I love that smell.  Weird, right?  I think that dancers probably feel the same way about the studio smell.  People, it smells like rosin, sweat and feet in there!  But it causes a visceral reaction and I think that Yelena Black captured that reaction.

The other thing I loved is how well she wove the transcendental feeling of dancing into the storyline and how it became a major plot point.  Again, maybe it is the dancer in me that identifies with that, but I know exactly what she is talking about when Vanessa describes that moment when everything comes together perfectly and how it seems to move the dancer beyond.  I think that dancers who read this book will understand that moment too.

I loved the way that the author rolled out small bits and pieces of the mystery and I found myself wondering who I could trust.  Sometimes I felt that Vanessa was too trusting with certain people, but I think that a 14 or 15 year old girl could easily be overwhelmed by an attractive older guy who says all the right things.  Been there, done that!  I started figuring things out before Vanessa did, but it didn’t bother me that she seemed a little naïve about certain things.

I was so glad when I got to the last page and realized that there would be another book in the series because I am dying to jump back into this world.  I’ll catch up on my occult reading and practice my plies while I wait for the next installment!


What If I Told You by Jason Walker

On My Own by The Used

When You Taught Me How to Dance by Katie Melua

Sweet Sacrifice by Evanescence


Here’s Where We Begin by Joshua Radin

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A.  I really loved this book.  I loved the dancing, the mystery, the scary bits…..just all of it.  I can’t wait for the next installment!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, this is such the complete opposite review of what my friend had to say about it. I'm glad that you liked it. :)