Dance Of Shadows By Yelena Black

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 .

Fifteen year old Vanessa has just been given the experience of a lifetime, chosen as one only twenty freshman dancers admitted to the New York Ballet Academy, the same school her sister Margaret attended... Before she disappeared three years ago. Vanessa has been offered a scholarship, praised as the most talented dancer to auditioned. Being a student at the premier dance school in the country isn't the only reason why Vanessa finds herself in the city that never sleeps, she wants to find Margaret, believing she's still out there, somewhere. But Margaret isn't the first student to disappear... And she certainly won't be the last.

This year the Academy will be performing The Firebird, the same ballet performance in which missing sister Margaret was cast as the lead when she was a fifteen year old freshman. Vanessa can see the recognition dawn on some of the senior dancers, including the irritable Justin, who knew Margaret when she attended the prestigious school. The Firebird production is mere months away and Vanessa is being watched by Josef, the choreographer who will not only push the dancers to their limits and beyond, but is responsible for casting the production. The lead of Prince Ivan belonging to the illustrious Zeppelin Grey, or Zep as the student body seemed to prefer. Strong and masculine, Zep is the envy of most at the Academy, he's also dating the immaculate Anna, the obvious choice for the female Firebird. Not since Margaret has a junior been cast, until Vanessa is chosen for the part. Not only does she find herself the target of whispers and innuendo by the female students, she now has the affections of Zep.

But when new friend Elly is reprimanded in class and begins to withdraw from the group before suddenly disappearing, Vanessa can't help but compare the disappearances between Elly and that of her sister, but she never expected to discover the last two girls that have been cast in the same role that Vanessa has been chosen to play, have both disappeared. Perhaps the Firebird ballet is cursed. The more Vanessa spends in the rehearsal studio, the more her dancing begins to take on a life of it's own. The perfection of her steps, leading to her surrounds beginning to blur, her vision and hearing becoming muffled and distorted and time slowing down, her limbs seemingly moving on their own accord. The whispered warnings in Vanessa's head, the strange ash silhouette's in the studio, and the disappearance of former Firebird dancers can't be a coincidence. Clearly there is something more than dancing occurring at the New York Ballet Academy.

Dance Of Shadows sounded intriguing. A romantic setting, a magical ballet performance and a love interest, and for the most part, it was. I loved the daily grind of the Academy, the professional dancers and students and the technical explanations, but I wished it had stayed within the contemporary genre and not ventured into the paranormal. It begun with shadows and whispers, but by the final few chapters, the magical setting that it was clinging to evaporated, and it felt like a complete farce.

Vanessa started with a mission to find her sister, but ended up being sidetracked, used as a doormat by the cardboard Zep, ditching her friends and begging for any bone that he would throw her way. A slightly older and more mature character with a spine would have made for a more likable protagonist. The bright sparks were gay dancer Blaine and the snippy Justin, but sadly, their characters were underdeveloped. I desperately wanted to fall in love with Dance Of Shadows, but I just couldn't. Unfortunately.

Dance Of Shadows
(Dance Of Shadows: Book One)
Written By Yelena Black
Published 14 / 02 / 2013
300 Pages

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher

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