Title: Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
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…
I thought this was a pretty cool book. I know it’s getting a lot of hate on Goodreads, but I for one enjoyed it. The writing wasn’t super stellar or anything, but the story definitely pulled me in.
When I started reading, I didn’t realize this book was paranormal. I was expecting a murder mystery set in a competitive dance school, and while I would have been perfectly happy with that, the paranormal elements made it more meaningful to me. I loved that Vanessa’s passion and skill literally opened her up to a different world, because I feel that way when I play flute.
Something else I really liked about this book was the Julliard setting. I tend to like books about artistic teen prodigies, so even without the paranormal element, I probably would have really enjoyed Yelena Black’s debut. I found the competitive environment of Julliard really fascinating and hope that Black will come back to it since I’m not sure if Vanessa will still be there in the next book.
Despite those parts of the book I really liked, there are two main factors that kept this book from being a four out of five for me: the “romance” between Vanessa and Zep, and the fact that this book is part of a new trilogy. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a fan of insta-love, which is definitely what Vanessa has with Zep. He notices her from the very first week, and she is instantly attracted to his good looks without knowing much about him. Though she feels something is off with their relationship, she continues hanging on until the very end even though she doesn’t end up learning that much more about Zep than when they first got together. Zep is kind of a jerk all around, and his only redeeming quality for me was *SPOILER* that he ended up being somewhat of a villain *END SPOILER* I just didn’t buy the relationship from the beginning and never liked Zep, so I wasn’t really torn up when things went south.
The fact that this book was part of a trilogy was almost enough to make me break up with this book. I know I talk about my hate of trilogies a lot, but I really, REALLY don’t like them. What happened to a good standalone? I’m in the middle of so many trilogies and series right now that I almost decided this book wouldn’t be worth it, but I kept reading and told myself I would only read the next books if Dance of Shadows ended on a super cliffhanger, which it didn’t, so trilogy avoided.
All in all, though I liked the competitive dancing aspect of this book, I didn’t find it compelling enough to put the second installment on my TBR list. There are definitely good things about Yelena Black’s debut, but not enough to wow me into reading the rest of the trilogy.