Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black | Book Review


Pages: 469 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

Format: Hardcover

Source: Library

Age Group: Young Adult



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 . . .

Rating: Had Potential

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I feel like almost every girl at some point in her life wished she was a ballerina (personally, I wish I could just dance). So, I was really interested in Dance of Shadows due to the ballet with a paranormal twist story line. Then, I saw that absolutely gorgeous cover and I knew I had to read it!

Unfortunately, Dance of Shadows did not live up to its promising cover. I found that my mind seemed to wander throughout most of the book. Plus, the pacing of Dance of Shadows was unbearably slow. It was the kind of slow where nothing really happens and your eyes begin to flutter between consciousness & your attention span becomes miniscule. This was such a pity because the story had so much promise! The mystery behind the missing girls instantly grabbed by attention, but it was way too drawn out. I would go through really long periods without any info which is one of the reasons the pacing was so slow, and then, randomly, I’d get information bombed. Throughout all of that, I held out till the end, because I wanted needed to solve the mystery. Thankfully, Yelena Black picks up the pace of Dance of Shadows at the very end with lots of action. 

Bland. Boring. Flat. The characters in Dance of Shadows just didn’t do it for me. Vanessa, our main character, is an amazingly gifted dancer, but the only reason she’s entered the New York Ballet Academy is to find her missing sister, Margaret. Vanessa was a very insecure character. I didn’t have a problem with that, but the problem was that she was constantly insecure. Every little thing seemed to depress her and I just wasn’t up to hosting a pity party. But, my main issue with Vanessa was how naive the girl was. I get that she’s in the dark throughout most of Dance of Shadows, but when I’m fuming due to a character’s naive, poor choices it’s not good. One perfect example was ZEP. Oh, how I hated that awfully fake & aggravating romance. I seriously could have done with out it. And, then, there’s suspicious Justin who seems up to no good , but I saw promise for an interesting character which sadly I did not get. I was not a fan of the main characters in Dance of Shadows and found Vanessa’s group of friends to be much more interesting, entertaining characters.

The best part of Dance of Shadows was undoubtedly the dancing. Yelena Black managed to exquisitely string together the perfect words to beautifully describe ballet. These were the moments where the book captivated my unwavering attention and transported me to the dance. I could clearly see the ballet dancers in front of my eyes and their graceful movements blew my breath away.

Overall, Dance of Shadows has an interesting but slow plot. The characters were flat, but hopefully could gain like-ability in following books. Yelena Black managed to transfer ballet perfectly into words which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d recommend Dance of Shadows to ballet lovers & readers who have the time to get into an interesting paranormal read. The ending shows promise for a better sequel, so there is a pretty high possibility of me picking it up.


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