Review: Dance of Shadows

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing and The Reading Room – get your own copy from The Book Depository

In my adolescent years, growing up in Asia, manga was very popular. I devoured many series though my most favourite would have been Sailor Moon. I remember the wait for the publication of the first book then the next and so on and so forth. One other type I would voraciously hunt down are any ballet related manga. I probably would have read all the Mari-Chan’s series and fell in love more and more with ballet. The lines of drawing ballerina gracefully in mid-flight, each character’s love of ballet and determination to succeed –what can’t you love about these series?!

I just love love love this cover of Dance of Shadows –beautiful colours which gave an impression of movement. The blurb falls along the line of a ballet manga and I couldn’t resist. It was a pretty easy read despite struggling with ballet jargons (I know some but not all) and whilst I know the theory, sometimes, it’s just hard to imagine the movement they’re supposed to do. Knowing ballet and ballet terms would definitely help in understanding the characters’ struggles in their ballet class and goals.

Whilst Vanessa was likeable enough, Blaine was the character which made this book for me. He’s Caucasian-Japanese in descent, bread in Texas and bat for the other team. He might be a bit flamboyant and at time, stereotypical, but you can only be stereotypical up to a point with a Texan-Japanese boy. Most of all, he made me laugh! I always fall for guys who make me laugh…

[Blaine] “Or I could settle for a Russian dance. 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 set of Matryoshka dolls.” He paused. “Not that I have any Matryoshka dools.”

Vanessa and the girls continued staring at him. “The 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?”

The story was a little slow for me until maybe the last 100 pages when the pace picked up and things progressed in a tremendous whirl. It began with Vanessa’s arrival at a most prestigious ballet academy though it was foreshadowed by her missing elder sister. The story was slow as we follow Vanessa in fitting into school-life and discovering a mystery surrounding the school. The foreshadowing is there, bits of darkness lurked around but after pushing through 2/3 of the book, I found the resolution quite a bit exciting. All the time I was reading, I could so see it in my head in something like

This story is not in any way light-hearted though much darkness (and slowness) was pierced by chuckle-worthy humour [see Blaine above]. Whilst the ending isn’t a cliff-hanger per se, it is well set up for the next book which I look forward to!

Thank you Bloomsbury and The Reading Room for the privilege to read and review this book

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