Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dance of Shadows - Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows book cover
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
Series: Dance of Shadows #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Bloomsbury!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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)

I’m extremely fascinated by creative expression of all kinds, and dance is definitely one of the forms I appreciate most. I actually spent many of my formative years doing ballet (and a few years doing jazz/modern dance), which was a win when it came to helping me be (a teensy bit more) graceful and giving me some measure of ability on a dance floor. It was no surprise that when I saw the cover for Dance of Shadows, I requested it right away.

This book is a creative, interesting story that incorporated life in a prestigious ballet academy with hints of the supernatural. It was intertwined together in an organic manner, which definitely helped me enjoy it and not be too put off by the shift from one to the other.

I absolutely loved that this book was set in New York City! I could not think of a more fitting place for a ballet story (except maybe Russia). We not only explore the ballet academy and the Lincoln Center, but we get to see the West Village and Central Park too!

Apart from the setting, the story was just intense. This book had a very creepy, sinister vibe to it, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages while I read. Even though I felt really scared sometimes, I found that my fear only fueled my desire to read on and find out what was going on. The strange occurrences, mysterious conversations and suspicious circumstances – everything added up to make me feel uncomfortable but determined to find out if my sleuthing skills were up to par (and they were!).

I feel very 50-50 about Vanessa. She’s incredibly dedicated to her dancing and so loyal to her sister, but I also found her character fairly predictable in terms of what she would do or how she’d react. I particularly took issue with the fact that she seemed to go from being all independent and focusing on her goals to being moony over the boy she liked and lamenting his lack of communication. She wasn’t necessarily an awful character, and I definitely rooted for her as the book progressed, but I couldn’t help being (occasionally) tempted to smack sense into her head.

The villain, on the other hand, was easy to guess early on. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. This is mostly because I wanted to find out the extent of his evil plan, and I didn’t care that I could already place the blame on him – I just wanted more knowledge of what he was up to exactly and why he was doing it.

There are some great secondary characters in this novel in the form of Vanessa’s friends. While they make sporadic appearances, when they do, they prove to be extremely helpful and amusing. I loved how cozy their friendship was; it reminded me of my own dormitory friends in college.

Of course, I can’t write about this book without mentioning the romance. All I have to say about the romance is this – charm is deceptive. I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of Vanessa’s so-called romance in this one, mostly because the guy was too standoffish and uncommunicative for my tastes. There is this other guy I did like a little more, but I found him to be a bit too mysterious and strange. The romance, thankfully, is not what makes this book so appealing, so I don’t feel bad about admitting that I could care less about it.

Dance of Shadows was just as creepy and intriguing as I expected, and I’m certainly hoping there’s more to come from the author about this world. While things were wrapped up nicely in the end, I definitely feel like there could possibly be more to come for Vanessa and her friends – and I can’t wait to find out what’s next.

25 comments:

  1. It sounds like my kind of book :) And yay for it being set in New York! You're absolutely right, a novel about a ballet academy should be set in New York :)
    I'm kinda sad the romance sounds kinda 'meh', but I do like the creep factor, I'm excited to read this soon-ish!

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    1. I'm thinking you're going to enjoy this one! I loved the ballet parts of the book most of all - I kept wishing there was more.

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  2. Yay, sounds so good! The cover is stunning. I love how it incorporates ballet with the supernatural.

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    1. That is precisely what I loved about the cover as well!

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  3. I am SO excited about this one! I haven't read any books that take place at an arty school - closest I've come was reading The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore where the MC was an ex-ballerina - but have loved movies that are set in these types of schools! Great review; can't wait to start this one!

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    1. It's lovely and different and unique, although I do have my qualms about it. There are certain things that could definitely have been improved on, but overall, it's good.

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  4. ooh this one's on my list and I'm glad you enjoyed it because I read some mixed reviews about it but now I'm thinking I might like it after all. Great review Alexa! =)

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  5. Yeah, I really did not like the romance at all!! Not a fan :( I LOVED all the ballet, but overall ended up not liking the book. I just didn't like the way the end turned, the romance, the mystery.. Also, I thought it was a standalone for some reason so I was disappointed!
    But really nice review - You brought a lot of great points to light and highlighted some of the better aspects :)

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    1. I actually thought it was a standalone as well! So to find out it was a series was a bit of a surprise, if I'm being honest.

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  6. Wow, this book does sound intense! I'm intrigued that there are THREE guys in the story as opposed to the typical love triangle--a love square lol? I've read the other two books in the Triple Threat tour and I definitely think I need to read this one as well! Lovely review as always Alexa :)

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    1. It's not exactly a love square... But you'll see what I mean if you get to read it ;)

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  7. Since Black Swan came out, I've seen a lot more creepy literature involving the dance scene (ballet in particular). While it sucks that the killer's identity was fairly guessable, I do think it's cool that the book held a creepy, sinister vibe throughout. For something like this, I feel like it could do without the whole romance bit and it instead should focus solely on creating an authentic atmosphere and chilling mood.

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    1. I think it could have been done even better! While I ended up liking the book, it wasn't perfect by any means. There was a lot that could be improved (like the ROMANCE, for one). There is a ton of potential though!

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  8. I'm actually really pumped you liked Dance Of Shadows because I am meeting the author on Sunday and you know it's a buzz kill to buy a book that sucks and while I haven't seen great reviews - I trust your taste and judgement so yayyy yay for making me feel like I won't be totally wasting my money.

    ALSO! I love NYC as a setting as well. AND books about creative expression!

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    1. I hope you end up liking it! As a veteran reader, I'm sure you'll spot the plot holes and annoying bits that I did. But I hope the idea of the story and the "mystery" keeps you reading :)

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  9. This one sounds really interesting! First off, I love that cover. And from reading the summary, it does sound really creepy! I am intrigued to find out more about the mysteries you talk about, and am glad that the romance isn't so predominant, even though I love romance.

    Thanks for the great review :)

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  10. I love the cover for this book But found Vanessa a pretty dull character-I wish she'd had a bit more personality and something unique to set her apart.

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    1. Vanessa was very average to me. She didn't really stand out, except when it came to her dedication to discovering what happened to her sister!

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  11. This sounds amazing! Exactly like my kind of book.

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  12. Yay, I've been wondering about this one. Vanessa seems to be questionable but I do love books based in New York. I must check this one out!

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    1. Vanessa is a bit grating, but you do see her dedication to certain things, so that kind of makes up for it. I'm sure she'll get better as the series progresses!

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  13. I liked this one as well and agree with everything you said above! I wasn't really affected by the romance and just wanted to shake Vanessa every now and again but otherwise it was really great. Mysterious, interesting, and just really kept my attention!

    Great review Alexa :)

    Faye

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    1. YES. I actually read your review and pretty much agreed with everything that you had to say about this one!

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  14. I am so glad you enjoyed this one. I've heard such mixed things about it, and especially about the romance, but I love everything with dance (though I don't think I've ever read about about it - Bunheads is still on my TBR) so I hope I'll like it anyway. I'm not sure how I feel about an unlikeable main character, but we'll see how that goes haha. I just want this for the cover alone because PRETTYYY!

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    1. That cover is gorgeous, I tell you. But the story is actually pretty decent - if you can stand an annoying romance and occasionally wanting to slap the main character, lol.

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