Monday, February 4, 2013

[Review] Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

(#1, Dance of Shadows)
Dance of Shadows Untitled

Yelena Black
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/02/2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 385
Source: For review

Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating: 

My thoughts

Note: there are slight spoilers in this review. I figured them out when the elements were first presented to me, so I don't consider them outright spoilers, but if you want to go into this book knowing NOTHING, don't read on!
You do not need to be a dancer to have an interest in all things dance. I'm a fan of the likes of SYTYCD and Bunheads and I always do a double-take when I come across dancing (style doesn't matter to me). So, naturally, books that involve dance interest me greatly, and I was really excited to read Yelena Black's debut novel Dance of Shadows. I think I could have loved this book, but there were just so many things I found irritating about it that detracted from its entertainment value.

Firstly, the positives. The mystery element kept me interested all the way through and although I knew who to trust I could never have guessed what had actually happened to Margaret (Vanessa's sister). The history of the school was also delved into with some depth. The book ends with a clear sign that there's at least going to be a sequel. I liked the dance elements, and I think many of the things said about dance were very true and spoken from the passionate ballet-enthusiast in the author. Also, the cover is gorgeous... you know, in the way that the Fallen covers are gorgeous. In the end, it's still a pretty girl in a dress.

Now, the things I felt detracted from the story--

1. Vanessa's idiocy, personality, behaviours, clutsiness, bad judge of character, she doesn't really think things through. For instance, she gets so tangled up in Zep (his touch, his smell, his taste, blah blah blah) that she doesn't second-guess his mysterious disappearances, even when her friends start to doubt his intentions. Without a doubt, Vanessa is one of the more memorable protagonists I've read, and I don't mean that in a good way.

2. Lack of good tactile imagery, description... half the time I felt the story just existed in a vaccuum. Also, the smell of salt and sweat were exhausted. There was a little bit of description of New York, but overall I just never felt like I was there. Again, vaccuum. A little bit of leeway here, as this is Black's debut novel. (But then again, the importance of these literary devices was ingrained in me all through high school.)

3. The writing. A lot of the typos and general grammar issues that I hope will be ironed out since I read an ARC. It wasn't hard to read by any means. In fact, not much concentration is required in order to keep track of everything. So, another plus: DoS is easy to read. 

4. Creepy love interest. I was apprehensive about this certain character from the start. Think Twilight. I just hope that after all that's happened Vanessa doesn't try to go back to him. I don't even know what his deal is. Heck, we know NOTHING about him, and neither does she. Which leads me to...

5. Who are these people? I don't really care about any of them. The only one who came close was TJ, because she had a bit of a 'tude, but seriously I don't know what their quirks are... what makes them unique from each other? What makes me want to like these characters? They all boiled down to one-dimensional characters that could be described in just a few choice words. But still, since there will be a sequel (or more) I'm hoping we learn more about them. And also their dialogue was the same... except for Blaine, whose exuding sexuality was pronounced with every single word he said. Since Vanessa is living with them, I just expected to at least like them but I'm very indifferent.

So I suppose that's the bulk of it. I did find the last 100 pages really interesting. I just wish everything were tighter and if the main character weren't so clueless for the majority of this book it would have been much shorter, which would have suited me just fine.

On a positive note, I DID finish reading Dance of Shadows and I DO intend to read the sequel.

When you mix dance, paranormal elements (which I will not spoil by being specific), a boarding school with a dark past, a mysterious love interest, a naive love-struck teenage girl, a cast of sidekick girlfriends and an overtly stereotypical gay guy, you get Dance of Shadows. Black's debut novel had the potential to be an amazing read, and it could have been had the characters been more well-developed. However, this is a fast-paced story that will have paranormal fans aching for more.
First lines: In the harsh glare of the lights, Chloe's shadow stretched across the stage. Her toes pointed and taut, her arms fluttering like wings, she arched her neck and watched as her own silhouette seemed to move without her . . .


"It was as if it held answers for him, that ballet wasn't just something he did, but it was the way he moved, the way he understood the world, the way he wanted the world to be. Beauty, Vanessa thought, listening to the sound of his voince until the cafe slowly emptied and they wandered back home." (140)



AUSTRALIA: Angus & RobertsonThe Nile

Fishpond | Amazon | Book Depository

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Positive reviews

Forget-Me-Not - 'an eerily gorgeous story' (4/5)

A Dream of Books - 'thrilling, dark and mysterious' (4/5)

Mundie Moms - 'a deliciously dark, wonderful read' (4.5/5)

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