Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Review of Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black published by Bloomsbury

Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Category: Young Adult
Format: eGalley
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 2-12-13
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. – Goodreads

Dance of Shadows brings the reader into two worlds.  The first world is the ultra-competitive world of dance.  Vanessa has been accepted into a very prestigious high school/dance academy in New York, but she goes with a heavy heart since her sister, who disappeared, was also a student there.  Slowly, it becomes clear that Margaret’s disappearance was more than just a stressed out kid running away.  That’s where the second world comes in.  There is definitely something not right about many of the teachers at this school, as if they were involved in something mysterious outside of ballet.  The story develops into Vanessa’s journey to not only succeed as a dancer, but to decide who she can trust as she looks for answers.   The book combines her normal rehearsal filled life with the intrigue of a mystery with occult overtones. 

This book would be great for those that are fans of dance because it certainly plays a huge part in this story.  I thought that a lot of it was repetitive, however,  There seemed to be a lot of scenes where they were in the same rehearsal over and over again.  Rather than moving the story along, I found it frustrating.  I would have liked some more succinct storytelling.  Vanessa was a sympathetic character and I liked her circle of friends, but both the character of Zep and Justin seemed underdeveloped, especially for a book of this length.  I know I was supposed to feel their individual pull on Vanessa, but I just didn’t feel the story gave me the information I needed to do that.  Along with an ending that was a bit rushed, the pacing was uneven and it kept me from really getting into the book. Some of the plot aspects were extremely hard to swallow, even allowing for the suspension of reality that you sometimes have to employ while reading books.  I suppose that’s the main reason for the feeling of disconnect I mentioned before.  I’m not sure this was really the book for me, but fans of ballet and occult based stories will likely enjoy it.

This book earned 2.5 birds rounded up to 3:
 photo kateexlibris3bird-1.png

I received this galley in exchange for my honest review.

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Kate @ Ex Libris

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1,215 responses to “Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

  1. I was so excited about this book, but I keep seeing sort of “meh” reviews. I don’t think I’d enjoy the repetitive dances and the pacing issues would definitely bother me. There are just too many books on my TBR pile for me to justify sticking with this one. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful review!

  2. Well, I have to say that I am definitely curious about the mystery and what is up with all the teachers at the school after reading your review. So I am sorry to hear that the execution of the premise was off. Such a shame that you found so much at fault with it because I had previously been very interested in reading it!

  3. I’ve been a little on the fence with this one. I think the awesome cover is what really made me want to read this but I don’t know… I don’t think I would like the repetitiveness you mentioned, though I do love dance. But mostly to watch, not read about. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I actually enjoyed this one, though I do agree that it needed a little bit more fleshed out. There’s potential though, and I’m definitely intrigued to learn more about these characters and what they’re facing!

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