Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black


Title: Dance of Shadows


Yelena Black

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Vanessa Adler isn’t so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family’s gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister’s destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn’t just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school’s dancers-prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline-become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.


I struggled with Dance of Shadows, and finally threw in the towel at 72%.  I hate not finishing books, especially books that I have been anticipating with great enthusiasm.  A paranormal romance with ballet dancers?  That sounded intriguing, and like something new, something that I haven’t read before.  It was with great dismay that I discovered how wrong I was.  This book reads like so many other YA PNR that it’s one big, yawn inducing cliché.  Boarding school setting? Check.  Distant, self-absorbed parent? Check.  Mysterious boys?  Check.  Dreaded insta-love at first sight. Uh, yup, there’s that overused trope, too.

Vanessa has enrolled at the School of American Ballet, determined to discover the fate of her missing sister.  Margaret has been missing for three years, and her family is desperate to find her.  Everyone assumes that she caved under the stressful demands of the elite dance school, but Vanessa is skeptical that she would just disappear without a word.  Once she’s at school, however, she begins to wonder.  The instructors are demanding, there is more competition than she expected, and she learns that numerous other girls have disappeared just like Margaret.  Still, Vanessa isn’t totally convinced that her sister had a breakdown and ran away.

As she settles into the daily routine at school, weird things start happening.  Her new friend disappears.  Vanessa zones out when she’s dancing, and sees shadows moving eerily around her.  There are those strange blood stains on the dance floor, and every time the school tries to put on a production of The Firebird, something happens to the ballerina cast in the lead.  When Vanessa is cast as the firebird, she starts to fear for her safety and sanity, too.

The pacing of Dance of Shadows is slow, slow, slow.  It didn’t hold my attention.   I felt like I’ve this story a hundred times already, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal if something  actually happened.  Vanessa is a tedious heroine who doesn’t speak her mind and just goes along with the crowd.  She’s a sheep who has fallen instantly in love with Zeppelin Black, big man on campus.  Without ever speaking a word to him, she has fallen under the spell of his long, lean good looks.  Ugh.  Really?  When he does start paying attention to her, he is so hot or cold that any girl with an ounce of self-respect or common sense would have realized that he’s a jerk and moved on to greener, friendly pastures.  But no, every time he snaps his fingers, Vanessa has to run to him and relish in every scrap of attention he flicks her way.  Because he’s gorgeous.  Dislike.

The secondary characters were all one-dimensional, cookie-cutter stereo-types, bland and without personality.  Not one of them memorable or even worth mentioning.  The same can be said about the older students and Zep’s  ex-girlfriend, who are Vanessa’s rivals.  Because there is no development for them, I didn’t care about them or understand any of their motivations.

Unfortunately, this story about ballerinas and the mysterious school they attend left me disinterested and hard-pressed to keep reading.  Dance of Shadows had a lot of potential, but for me, it fell short of expectations.

Grade:  DNF

Review copy provided by publisher

One thought on “Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

  • March 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    You are not alone, I know this has a lot of mixed reviews. I appreciate your thoughts on it.

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