Friday, February 8, 2013

ARC Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Title: Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows #1)
Author: Yelena Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery

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, 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...
Review by Nara

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for sending me an advance copy of Dance of Shadows through NetGalley. In no way did this affect my opinion of the book.

When I first read the blurb of Dance of Shadows, my first thought was:
Zep. Justin. Josef. WTF. A LOVE SQUARE. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. (Also, what kind of name is Zep?)
Now having read the book, all I can say is 1. Thank God it wasn't a love square (although it was still a love triangle -_-) and 2. Man, that romance was so unrealistic.

The romance with Zep was probably one of the most unrealistic romances I've read so far this year (after Fallen Too Far). It was honestly a bit childish, and full of those ridiculous cliches that all readers hate, yet a good proportion of authors seem to insist on using:
"There's never been anyone like you before"- which is only ever okay if it's been worded properly, and clearly, in Dance of Shadows it wasn't (exact line in the ARC was 'You're different than all the other girls I've taken out.' although that is subject to change in the final published copy).
"It felt as if I knew him in a past life"- which is only okay when the book is about reincarnation or whatever.
There was also the dreaded instalove with both Zep and Justin, which is NEVER okay. Also, sidenote: "mysterious" Justin? Seriously? There was pretty much nothing mysterious about him, apart from the fact that he kept a secret from Vanessa- which could have saved everyone a lot of angst had he confided in her much earlier. (Ha! Now you're curious as to what this secret is. Better read the book then.)

Pace and Writing
So, at the start of the book, there is a scene to kick off the creepiness that continues throughout the novel: an initiation ceremony for the students at the Ballet Academy. I found that this scene was overly dramatic and cliched. Bits of French were added here- which honestly seemed unnecessary and out of place. Another thing, the seniors made the initiates cut themselves. What is this, a cult??

I found that the book was quite slow to start off with; too slow, really, and it could have done without certain sections dragging the scenes on- this would have kept the pace up and stopped me from losing interest as quickly as I did. Nonetheless, for the sake of a complete review, I continued on.
Confession time: 1. I skimmed pretty much the entire novel and 2. I skipped entire pages, yet I found that not only did this do nothing to hinder my understanding of what was going on, but I still found that the pace was too slow. Basically, because of this slow pace, all the tension was lost before the climax could be reached.

Overall, my opinion is that the novel wasn't terrible, but wasn't particularly good either. Nothing really stood out for me. It was also a bit childish, and I feel that it actually wouldn't do too badly if targeted at a slightly younger age group (13-16 year olds) i.e. middle grade rather than young adult.

Similar Books
1. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
2. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Sheperd
3. Shadowlands by Kate Brian

It was okay

Overall: 5/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 5/5


  1. Hi Nara, great review, was was in and out for this one, didn't get the chance to read it yet, but I love to see positive and negative reviews before trying it! I do agree with you about the '' There's never been anyone like you before '' thing, but I kinda love the ''insta-love'' crap too :P I think the most important part of this book, the one that really attract me (except for the cover) is the creepy background and Vanessa's sister disappearing!

    1. I think that instalove is okay when it's backed up by some sort of substance other than physical attraction- but then I think it would no longer be considered instalove (if that makes sense). And so true, the mystery side of things made me want to keep reading. I wanted to find out what happened even though the novel wasn't great. :D

  2. Oh man I just finished this last night for a blog tour later this week and I really agree with your review! The romance was so terrible that I just started rolling my eyes whenever Zep or Justin entered the picture. I did like the ending well enough.

    1. I think the romance is probably one a younger audience might enjoy, but it was too cliched for me haha. I'll have to check out your review if you're going to post one :)

  3. I'm almost too scared to try this one haha but the cover is gorgeous!
    On the instalove debate, I don't mind love at first sight, but 1. there can't be a love triangle (just doesn't make sense if you're in instalove with someone right), 2. it also can't be new adult because then all they do is have sex, and 3. I changed my mind. instalove sucks.