Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)-Yelena Black
“See that’s what I’m talking about,” Blaine said. “Or I could settle for a Russian dancer. They’re so severe. I love it. I wouldn’t even care if he spoke no English whatsoever.As long as he made sweet, sweet love to me while feeding me caviar, and then helped me play with my Matryoshka dolls.” He paused. “Not that I have any Matryoshka dolls.”
Vanessa and the girls continued staring at him. “Then how would you communicate?” Elly asked quizzically.
“Darling,” Blaine said, leaning forward and batting his eyelashes. “The language of love requires no words. Haven’t you seen The Little Mermaid?”
Vanessa is a striking redhead who doesn’t really like to dance but happens to be very skilled at ballet. When her sister Margaret disappears from the New York Ballet Academy(NYBA) she embraces her talent, perfecting her technique until she is accepted to NYBA where she hopes to find her sister. When Vanessa arrives she is immediately swept up into the life of a ballerina. Constant rehearsals and practices, living on salad and water, with little time for fun Vanessa doesn’t have time or energy to search for her sister. When Vanessa lands the coveted lead in The Firebird, the winter production strange things start to happen. One of Vanessa’s closest friends disappears just like her sister and with the sleuthing skills of her new friends she unveils a long string of disappearances of principle ballerinas spanning many decades. There’s something off and suspicious about Joseph and Hilda, the ballet instructors. Zep lurks in the shadows and for the male lead ballerina is strangely absent, off on Joseph’s bidding. As the most talented and attractive dancer at NYBA, Vanessa is floored when he is instantly attracted to her, especially because he is dating the delicate, perfect, blonde Anna. Justin is also a bit of a mystery. He stalks Vanessa, warns her that Zep is not all he seems, and hurts her under the pretense of protecting her. In a world of secrets and lies, Vanessa doesn’t know who to trust. Soon Vanessa learns the truth of the fire dance and must make a sacrifice that could cost her her life.
• The concept of the book is brilliant. That dancing can be such a beautifully magnificent force of nature that it could span dimensions and open portals quite literally to another world is insane. Connecting this with ritualistic demon possession is both sinister and makes for a gripping story fueled by centuries old magic, murder, and secrets.
• The cover is gorgeous.
• The plot is so predictable that there’s no need for foreshadowing or anything fancy like that. You are guaranteed to see EVERYTHING coming. As you might have guessed this does little for the suspenseful moments in the book.
• Because (as cliched as it sounds) the character development is an exercise in why it is necessary to show not tell, there is little to no emotional connection between the reader and the characters. Scenes that should have been heartbreaking fell flat and the comical bits, as hilarious as they are by themselves, in the context of the book earn a small smirk rather than the laughter Black no doubt intended.
• Vanessa is one of the worst protagonists I’ve ever seen. She’s too trusting, completely naïve, and is blindsided by her ridiculous infatuation with Zep. Several times I wanted to smack her in the head and tell her to wake up and see what’s right on front of her but she has this uncanny ability of ignoring help, believing the good in people when the bad is staring her in the face, and being stupidly gullible to the point where it’s infuriating. Although Vanessa is a strong dancer, she is weak when it truly matters and for all of her compassion she’s a bit of a snob.
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