Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
UK Release date: 12th February 2013
Genre: Paranormal YA
Read via NetGalley
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 Josh, 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 . . .
As a child I always wanted to dance, so I was really excited to read about ballet 'behind the scenes'. There was something very idyllic and stylish about living in New York, and popping out with a cute guy for pizza. But the storyline was made up of two different subplots: Vanessa starting and settling into the New York ballet school, and the strange mystery of her sister who just mysteriously ran away and disappeared from the same ballet school a few years before.
I enjoyed the balance of both angles - I loved finding out about the realities of living and studying in a ballet school. I’d already heard that it could be really tough, so it was interesting to see Vanessa making friends and flirting with Zep and also having to work really hard to train and learn new dances. Seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly was fascinating for me. And I also liked the mysterious goings-on and strange clues there were for Vanessa to follow, but I would have liked a few more twists and surprises as the plot was a little easy to guess.
Vanessa was driven by her search to find out what happened to her sister Margaret, and it some ways it was a little sad that she was so good at dancing but didn't fully appreciate and enjoy her talent for what it was. But the fact that she still wanted to find the truth was very noble and caring. When she started seeing strange things when she danced and kept bringing up her sister, I knew that others might start questioning her sanity and think she was losing it. And it made me feel nervous for her, as I really wanted her friends to believe her. Vanessa’s friends were cute, quirky and bubbly and their tight-knit little group felt like it was plucked straight from scenes of TV musicals like Glee.
I wouldn’t say Dance of Shadows has the strongest plot, but for a younger audience I think this book would be a great insight into ballet school that also has a creepy, supernatural mystery running alongside.