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Dance of Shadows

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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 . . .

369 pages, Hardcover

First published February 5, 2013

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About the author

Yelena Black

3 books166 followers
Yelena Black is a recent MFA graduate of Columbia University. She currently resides in New York City and is a full-time writer. She has a keen interest in dance and all things devilish.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 633 reviews
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
285 reviews780 followers
June 22, 2017
Three years ago, Vanessa's sister disappeared without trace from the New York Ballet Academy, where she had won the prestigious lead role in the school's Firebird production. Now Vanessa follows in her sister's footsteps in the hope of finding out what happened to Margaret. Dance of Shadows is a paranormal YA novel all about dancing to save your life.

Fabulous premise, but fell short on execution. There were about 300 pages of buildup and unsolved mysteries, and then when it all finally sets into motion I was left feeling disappointed. 50-some pages of action just aren't worth the trudge through the long, long setup.

However - I liked the side characters and the well-built setting, a school of elites full of stress and pressure. And the immersive descriptions of Vanessa's experience while dancing were beautifully written.
So 3 stars it is!
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
February 11, 2013
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

WARNING: this review contains spoilers as well as the occasional CAPS LOCK OF FURY AND FRUSTRATION. You have been warned!

Here, let me start by spoiling this review for you by cutting to the chase: Dance of Shadows is spectacularly bad.

It does actually have a promising premise that mixes the strenuous world of Ballet and a supernatural mystery involving disappearing prima ballerinas as well as demons. Oh premise, you could have been so much fun had you been proficiently handled. Alas, no. The execution is so poor, it takes that premise and turns into a story that is really and truly laughable in the end. I was reading Dance of Shadows and thinking about writing as craft – you know, that thing where skill meets care? I was dismayed at the utter lack of said craft when it came to Dance of Shadows.

The book opens with a prologue, in which a ballerina named Chloe dances a ballet number and then is taken over by something and disappearing – it is pretty obvious something supernatural happened.

Cut to the actual story as it begins at the New York Ballet Academy, the most prestigious Ballet School in the country, where 15-year-old Vanessa Adler is about to start her studies. She is a natural-born dancer with an incredibly powerful talent, one that requires little work. When Vanessa is dancing is like she loses herself to the dance and the real world disappears. But she doesn’t really like dancing, not really. The only reason why she is going to NYBA is to find out what happened to her sister Margaret who attended the school before disappearing three years before when she was about to start in the infamous Firebird ballet.

This is the same role that Vanessa herself lands after she effortlessly impresses the school’s main choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. There Vanessa will discover that, in the past 20 years, other girls involved in the Firebird have disappeared. And when one of her new friends is gone without a trace she starts to wonder about her own safety.

Now Vanessa must find the time to investigate these disappearances in between rehearsals and falling in love with heartthrob #1, Zeppelin (recipient of the just now created The Book Smugglers Award for WORST CHARACTER NAME EVER) as well as fighting off the attention of heartthrob #2, Justin.

Where do I even start?

Perhaps with the question of plausibility. It is established that the New York Ballet Academy is the finest school in the country. And yet, people disappear without a trace and have been disappearing for the past twenty years and NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT or connects the dots that might link these kids to the Academy. Similarly, all the students seem to be stuck to this ONE choreographer that is a bully who ridiculously tells people off when they don’t know a number THEY HAVE YET TO LEARN. The novel ends with the choreographer disappearing and the school doesn’t really care that much at all. No fuss about it. You’d think that that such a prestigious place had better standards but apparently not.

Then there is the way that things are established rather than developed. As such the main character has a circle of best friends as soon as she sets foot in the academy as well as a group of Mean Girl antagonists (a group of “skinny” girls who all look and behave the same, of course). When one of her friends goes missing, her group of friends say things like “she’d never do this” but as they barely know each other, how could they know? This becomes especially problematic when combined with the issue of pacing. In SNAIL TIME: most of the book when dealing with minutiae like what people are wearing. At the SPEED OF LIGHT: the most important parts – the actual relationships, the characters’ arcs.

The relationship between Zeppelin and Vanessa is based on insta-love. When Vanessa exchanges a look with Zeppelin, without as much as having talked to him before:

It already felts like they were intimate, that they had known, maybe even loved, each other in some previous life.

Granted, this is a sign of a very immature, naive protagonist – except that there isn’t much in terms of character development at all.

The other love interest, Justin, is an arrogant prick. There is one scene when he is rude to her and one of her best friends says:

“He looked like he wanted to kill you. Or throw you against the wall and make out with you.”

Because we all know that wanting to kill you = wanting to make out.

But that’s ok because Justin is actually just trying to save her. As such he spends the entire book and most of their interactions going around in circles, being cryptic and rude to Vanessa and telling her to go away without explaining WHY (considering how she is CENTRAL to a plot to bring a demon into the world, you’d think people would be more forthcoming). But that’s ok because we all know that being cryptic really works and not listening to each other is really a logical way to behave even though Justin KNOWS Vanessa wants to know more about her sister’s disappearance and Vanessa KNOWS that Justin is aware of what is truly going on. Vanessa’s entire motivation is based on her wanting to find her sister so it is really understandable that she would spend little to no time actually finding out what happened to her (that’s irony, by the way).

That brings me to the issue of plot-sustainability. Because the prologue makes it so clear (to the reader) that something supernatural is afoot, the fact that the prologue even exists basically removes any potential tension from the rest of the book. At the same time, this makes for incredibly frustrating reading because the main character is completely clueless to the supernatural angle of the story. The entire arc of the novel has the main character questioning What Is Happening, when the reader knows full well what is happening – that all the ballerinas have supernaturally disappeared – even if we don’t have all of the details or the WHY (although one can infer). And then, when you do finally get to the why, it surfaces that some dancers are actually NECRODANCERS capable of using dance to do EVIL THINGS and raise demons FOR REASONS. And there is an actual secret underground dancing group called THE LYRIC ELITE. At that point I was hoping for the book to finish already and started laughing outright.

But then I started crying because how does tripe like this get published?
Profile Image for Anatea Oroz.
302 reviews515 followers
January 20, 2019
This review is also posted on my blog, Anatea's Bookshelf.

I must admit that I was drawn to this book because of the amazing cover and an interesting premise. I love books that feature dancing and in this case, it was ballet. Add to it a mystery and you have me sold. But what I didn't know is that this book is not what it seems like when you read the blurb. This book isn't just a dance book with a mystery twist, but there's a whole paranormal twist too, and I feel obligated to say this in my review.

When I started reading Dance of Shadows, it immediately reminded me of the movie Black Swan. I did not really like that movie, it was confusing and I spent half of the movie trying to figure out what is real and what is just happening in the dancer's head. But, I still decided to give a chance to Dance of Shadows. While I'm happy I gave it a chance because it turned out different than the movie and I liked the plot, I'm also not happy because it had major flaws in some other areas.

Vanessa's sister Margaret disappeared while she was in New York Ballet Academy, and Vanessa decided to go to the same school as Margaret to figure out what really happened to her. She was an outstanding dancer, and soon, she is offered the lead role in Firebird by her teacher Josef. While she is working really hard to do a good job in practice and pleasing her teacher, weird things start to happen and she doesn't know who to trust anymore. Her 'boyfriend' Zep is acting weird and Justin seems to follow her around.

Vanessa is one of those characters who always seem to trust wrong people and do the wrong things when everything is obvious. While Justin was trying to make her see things she kept accusing him that he's just jealous of Zep and her. She was so full of herself and thought that everything is about her.

The other characters are just there for the plot. They're shallow and we don't know a thing about them. No character development. I got a feeling they just pop in the story when some facts needed to be brought up.

While I enjoyed the storyline and the world Yelena created and you can see she did her research on ballet and she knew her terms, I was really disappointed by the lack of mystery in this book and the stupid and plain characters. 80% of the book I was rolling my eyes on Vanessa because of her stubbornness and her inability to look past her nose when she had clues practically screaming at her.

Yes, this book has an amazing cover, probably one of my favorite covers ever, and yes it has an interesting story, but the characters are keeping me from giving Dance of Shadows more than 2 stars.

I don't know if I should recommend you to read this book. If you can look past the characters and ignore them, you'll probably like this book. I'm still debating whether or not to read the sequel. I'd like to know what happens next, but I don't know if I can read the sequel if the characters don't improve.

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Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews613 followers
March 11, 2013
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

There are books that make me rage in a good way (for example, books I love with a cliffhanger on the very. last. page.) and books that make me rage in a bad way (the kind that leaves me wanting the hours I spent reading it back). Unfortunately, after drawing me in with its beautiful cover and mysterious blurb, DANCE OF SHADOWS ended up causing the latter kind of rage. Based on the description of the book, I was hoping for a combination of Black Swan and Center Stage with paranormal elements. What I got was an interesting premise that could have been a great story, but unfortunately fell flat with poor pacing, bland characters and laughable dialogue.

First of all, this book was about 100 pages too long. The middle section dragged with repetitive descriptions of rehearsals which 90% of the time featured the same characters dancing the same dance over and over. Then, when the conflict finally came to a head, it happened so quickly that I’m pretty sure I blinked and missed it. If the book had to be as long as it was, I would have appreciated less rehearsals and more conflict.

Vanessa is one of the most boring protagonists I have ever read. I can’t even summon up any strong emotion toward her except anger at how dumb she acts. She goes to ballet school to solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, but that immediately takes a backseat to all the guys who just can’t stay away from her. She doesn’t put simple things together and walks into dangerous situations multiple times. I kind of wanted to shake some sense into her for at least half of the book. Then, other characters are so one dimensional. Take, for example, Blaine, Vanessa’s classmate who is “the gay friend.” Nothing comes out of his mouth that doesn’t have to do with cute guys. Or the mean girls- labeling them as such gives you all the information you need.

This book also had the most ridiculous example of “instalove” that I have ever read. The minute Vanessa shows up at school, she falls for Zep, a senior. Of course, Zep is also taken with her, and breaks up with his girlfriend to be with Vanessa, despite the fact that they’ve never actually had a conversation. Zep has absolutely no redeeming qualities and he treats Vanessa terribly. He practically never communicates with her and frequently ignores her in rehearsals. She is constantly questioning their relationship and why he would be interested in her. And yet! She stays with him and trusts him completely, which in the end, is to her detriment.

My biggest issue with the book was that there were so many unbelievable aspects. They range from small things, like the level of adult supervision at the school, to bigger issues, such as how the disappearance of the lead dancers over the years wasn’t noticed by anybody. The whole story seemed to happen in a self-contained bubble. I’m definitely accustomed to suspending disbelief but it was just so hard to get past the idea that there were disappearing dancers and nobody put it together except for a few high school kids. Even the organization of dancers which supposedly prevents other dancers from doing evil didn’t notice this (why yes, there is an organization that is pledged “to protect mortals from those who seek to use the art of dance for dark and sinister purposes”).

All in all, the beautiful cover on DANCE OF SHADOWS hides a ridiculous and poorly written story. While I normally will give a second book in a series a chance, even if I’m not the hugest fan of the first one, in this case I will be staying as far away from the sequel as possible.

Sexual Content:
589 reviews1,031 followers
June 16, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads
That cover O__O I simply fell in love with this amazing cover that captured my heart the second I saw it. Not really pleased with what I got in the end as I had high hopes in liking the book despite the low average rating.

A book of a sinister ballet school and mysterious disappearances of dancers, Vanessa is accepted into the school of Ballet, not only for dancing purposes, but also in search for her missing sister, Margaret. Then Vanessa meets Zep, dark and enigmatic, he seems to be keeping something from her. But what?

I despised the majority of the book, about four fifths of it until the end. Where it was so fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat. However, for the rest, I found it pretty boring and repetitive, not moving at all. In less than 5 pages upon meeting, Vanessa makes friends with 4 other people. It states around page 15 that she already called them her 'friends'. Not really authentic enough for moi.

Vanessa is a head strong girl, also very sensitive and a caring little sister. Being head strong isn't terribly good, as for some of the time I just wanted to slap her face for not listening to Justin as some situations were beyond obvious.To sum up, she is really stupid. Zep, as I mentioned before is extremely cryptic and it was infuriating to see that Vanessa couldn't sense that at all. I loved Justin, he seemed like the only person who knew what they were doing and was relatable. (Even though I found it weird that he was stalking Vanessa.)

The plot was well set out and unravelled. Never would I have wondered about specific people to be involved in such horrible out comes.

Dance of Shadows may catch you in the eye with its spectacular cover, but found change those taste buds after reading this novel. Insta love, insta friendship and in a way a book adaptation of Black Swan, the movie, it was alright. In the end, I sorta swayed my opinions as the end startled me. I recommend this book to lovers of ballet stories and someone in need for a cryptic, sinister novel.
Profile Image for Vivian.
Author 8 books73 followers
June 15, 2016
Poeh, verslavend boek wel! Kon het niet goed wegleggen en het bleef maar door mijn hoofd spoken. Moet zeggen dat het verhaal niet echt fantastisch was of zo, maar het heeft wel iets wat heel erg ''compelling'' is en dat vind ik wel positief. Uitgebreide recensie: http://thebookreview.nl/recensies/you...
Profile Image for Kara-karina.
1,658 reviews252 followers
February 4, 2013
I have to warn you straight away that the one thing that drew me to this book was the main thing that made my judgement of Dance of Shadows extremely prejudiced.

I am an ex-dancer myself and although I've never danced en pointe, as my primary was folk dance I still had a full classic ballet education (as you do in Russian choreographic schools), went through few major ballets and was pretty damn good at what I was doing. I still love dance to bits, and that book was an affront to my passion of all things dance.

Vanessa Adler, the main character, is a very talented ballerina but she dances because her mother and her sister did it and she feels obligated to go the same route. When her older sister Margaret disappears after going to study ballet to a prestigious Julliard school in New York, Vanessa decides to go and do the same thing. Yup, she just forever follows people and doesn't want to make something of herself on her own.

Dance of Shadows is very poorly executed, it's awkward, full of wooden token characters and it doesn't make much sense, but above all it doesn't understand dancing, and my major pet peeve of this book is that Vanessa despite her brilliance is indifferent to dancing. Let's not even go into faux pas with ballet terms sequences that did not make any sense, empty theatre when it should be teeming with people after the performance and no emotional nuances of getting into a role for the two main dancers of Firebird...

What?!! She could not possible be brilliant and not love dance. Ballet is a hard graft, it's a huge huge sacrifice, people. You basically can not have ordinary life if you are a ballerina. You can't go home and forget about ballet like you would do with a normal job. You live and breathe by it and you very often marry in the same circle because you literally have no time to meet any outsiders, and if you do - what life can you make with them if you are always on the road and they are not?

Saying that she does not care about ballet is unbelievable. You don't work that hard and get that far if you are indifferent to dance, you have to be truly passionate about it.

So this was my first and worst problem with this book.

Secondly, the effing plot didn't make any sense and was very sketchy. What is wrong with Stravinsky and Firebird? I happen to love this composer and this ballet and I do not find anything demonic and strange in his music.

Also all this people were disappearing from Julliard and nobody was making a fuss?!! Right. Like that is going to happen.

Thirdly, Josef was a piss poor choreographer, and I would not for one moment believe that he could work in one of the best ballet schools in the world. Screaming and insulting someone? Yeah, sure, some of them do that. But absurdly accusing someone of ineptitude when they don't know the dance steps and never seen it in their life? That's just plain crazy.

Forth, where is the rest of the school? The rest of the studies? Teachers? Living in general? Are we supposed to believe that apart from Josef and his flankie ballet teacher everyone else blends into shadows? That nothing else happens?

Basically, I have to stop my rant now because the deeper you dig into this book, the worse it gets. I'm sure lots of people will find it entertaining, but from my perspective I do not recommend it to anyone.

December 27, 2014
First off, this is a 3.5 rating for me.

This started off really well. The premise is what drew me in and the cover.

You have Vanessa who goes to a ballet school to find out what happened to her missing sister. And from there, it has its up and downs.

The first half was interesting, then in the middle, I got bored. I kept wondering what the other characters, who honestly, I found I wanted to know more about.

But the moments with Vanessa and Zep, I don't know, I just couldn't get invested in. And times where I facepalmed thinking, Vanessa are you serious? Weren't you here for a reason, etc. I did like the mystery, how she confides in her friends.

Then the last half, it got a little better and the story moved forward. Sure you could kind of guess what was going to happen. But then at the same time, you're thinking, huh well I didn't see that coming.

Sure it has its flaws, sure it takes some time to get through. But I'm glad I at least finished it, wanting to give it a chance. A good to okay read.
Profile Image for Alicia.
58 reviews22 followers
July 23, 2014
"The right steps with the right dancer can wreck havoc."

Vanessa’s sister disappeared from the New York Dance Academy, but she’s not the first one. 11 girls have gone before her, and all in the same way. They were told to master an odd dance– La Dance du Feu– before they went missing. Something is wrong, terribly wrong within the 4 ashen walls of the dance theatre and Vanessa must find out, or the world will spin away into the hands of a sinister force as she dances. Mark my words, the disappearing girls will keep you spooked out… and still guessing.

Yelena Black is really good with her world-building, from the studios, to the ballet, to the ancient folklore and dark magic, I held my breath the whole time because I was so afraid that shadowy hands will grab me from the book! The element of fear and suspense transcends every page, not to mention how the intoxicating ballet atmosphere feels like the best cake treat for a kid, if only I can try those steps and pirouette my way cross country!

However, as I dug deeper into Dance of Shadows, I realized there was nothing amazing or particularly outstanding. It didn't convince me how so many missing girls from the same institution could go unnoticed by the public, and it was sad to see how the high school drama watered down the gripping mystery I was ready for. I read this book very very carefully, not skipping a single punctuation because I couldn't bear to miss any details that points to a possibly mind-blowing revelation. And... There was none.

Throughout the whole story, the characters continually disturbed me. I like how Vanessa is a girl with a mind of her own, but her stubbornness and lack of judgement is infuriating. It’s those moments when you know exactly what’s wrong with what the character is doing but she won’t do anything about it. The clues are screaming into her ears, the abnormal behaviours can be explained if she stops to reason, yet she pushes away the person trying to help her and confide all her secrets to the big bad guy. Don’t even get me started on the love triangle. Both boys were equally douche and I had no idea, absolutely NO IDEA how that mushy little relationship could be love!! *RAGES*

If not for the final paranormal twist and beautiful ballet, this wouldn't even be a 2-star book. You know, people always tell you "Don't judge a book by its cover!", but I never learn.
More reviews on Summer Next Top Story
Profile Image for Suzanne.
635 reviews29 followers
October 13, 2012
Maybe 1.5, at times. Okay, yes, the cover is GORGEOUS, but . . . .

I kept thinking that the inspiration for this novel had to be the movie BLACK SWAN, maybe with a dash of ROSEMARY’S BABY? Just didn’t work. Maybe people mad for ballet PNR will squeal with delight, but that doesn’t seem like a big demographic.

Vanessa is a freshman, but she is going to be on her own at the New York Ballet Academy to study and perform. Luckily, some of her dorm-mates are straight out of GLEE, instant best friends of stereotypical material, that much better to focus on somewhat bland Vanessa and the hot guy with whom she wants to dance, senior Zep cast as the lead in the Firebird, a cursed ballet that Vanessa’s own sister was set to star in before she disappeared three years earlier. European artsy type extraordinaire choreographer Joseph, of course, sees the stellar dancer in Vanessa and crushes expectations by giving her the coveted lead opposite Zep.

Even the disappearance of Elly, one of her quicky pals, doesn’t keep Vanessa from playing with the fire of secretly dating Zep and dancing the risky role. Nor does another hot guy who knew her sister manage to warn her away from the demonic dark dance doo-doo, voo-doo that take FOREVER to finally happen. Then when it does, I kept thinking, huh? Secret arcane dance libraries with invisible ink? Ballet dancer remnants locked in a practice studio? A Knights Templar, DaVinci Code sort of dance world protection group that hasn’t quite caught on to the seriously dark ambitions of Joseph and minions even though many young dancers have gone AWOL over the 20 years of his work at the NYBA. If it had ever started off well, I would say: Jumped the shark, baby. Maybe, cracked the nut?
Profile Image for Kati.
62 reviews66 followers
September 22, 2016
Este libro fue ¡WOW!
Me mantuve enganchada desde el principio hasta casi el final. Sip, el final no me gustó mucho....
¿Y Zep? ¿Dónde está?¿Después de esto no hay más?

—No pienses en ello. Siéntelo —pasó la mano por su brazo hasta extenderla hacia el exterior en su postura inicial. Y luego tras su cuenta, comenzaron—. Amor —presionó su pierna contra la de ella hasta que su dedo se deslizó por el suelo—. Tú me necesitas. Me quieres. Siempre me has querido. Pero no puedes tenerme.
Vanessa escuchaba sus palabras, sintiendo el pulso a través de sus venas. Ella arqueó la espalda en una súplica dolorosa.
—El destino está en contra de nosotros —susurró—. Aún así, te ofreces a mí. Me seduces.
Sus brazos se agitaban frente a ella, y poco a poco, ella arqueó su cuerpo en un arabesco, entregándose a él.
—Trato de resistirme a ti, pero no puedo.

Después... En realidad no pensé que el libro sería de la temática que es, lo cual me ha echo aprender que tengo que fijarme mucho más en las etiquetas y leer que va de demonios. (Lección aprendida)
Lo reconozco, desde el principio tenía la impresión de que Zep estaba involucrado en las desapariciones, pero su papel en todo eso sigo sin entenderlo. Yelena, eso tienes que explicarlo en el otro libro porque no das una respuesta aquí!
No quería que Vanessa se quedase con Justin, aunque tampoco es que estén juntos. Por lo que más quieras Yelena haz que, pase lo que pase, en el siguiente libro salga Zep y que esté con Vanessa!!!!
No puedes dejarme con "su amor imposible"!!!!!!
Profile Image for hayden.
1,054 reviews732 followers
January 21, 2013
2.5 stars

This review will be written mostly in Mean Girls GIFs, so don't be angry about it. Fair warning.

Dance of Shadows has one of the greatest concepts I've ever heard in my years of reading. A demonic ballet school? Sign me up! SO many elements of this book's premise were things I'd been dying to read: a mysterious missing sister, a crush that never goes beyond that (Wow! A first!), and a ballet instructor brimming with mystery and intrigue.

And then I made the foolish mistake of believing the product of a book packaging deal would be able to pull all of these things off in a believable way.

How silly, the mistakes I make.

Dance of Shadows did pull off certain things, and failed miserably at other things. I will now try my hardest to compile a list of both subjects, with maybe a few in-betweens.

Things About Dance of Shadows

1): Salt, a.k.a. The Writing
The writing in certain scenes was just atrocious. I dunno if Yelena Black was craving salt during the production of this book, but every time Vanessa was kissed, it was described as salty. I dunno about you, but if I were kissing someone right now, I wouldn't want to notice how salty it was. Black also went into vivid detail to describe how sweaty everyone was.

Other than that, the writing felt very I'm-in-eighth-grade-writing-an-English-report-and-am-raping-the-thesaurus-to-sound-smart. Besides the salt thing, there were never any glaring problems with the writing, and there was an occasional beautiful and tasteful metaphor, but they were few and far between.

2): Holy Crap What Just Happened Oh No Now It's Over
Lemme just say HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED OH NO NOW IT'S OVER. That is how I felt about the end of this book. Black did a realllllly good job establishing tension near the end (I'll get to the beginning next), and, dare I say it, a teeny tiny bit of emotional investment in the characters. They stretched from their one-dimensional selves (which I'll also get to later) and gave me a reason to care about them.

The climax went on forever, but my heart was pounding so hard it felt like only two pages. The final scenes were good too, setting up a great foundation for the next book's beginning. I'm actually quite excited for the next book, believe it or not.

3): Hit Me Like a Big, Yellow School Bus
The title should speak for itself. My topic here is tension and mystery in the beginning of the book. Foreshadowing. Black might think we're all legit retarded with the way she foreshadows. It's like we're being hit by big, yellow school buses.

Let me figure something out on my own for once. Let me read something 400-something-odd pages later and go "OH WOW! I never knew THAT'S what she meant earlier!" Unfortunately, there was none of that here.

4): One-Dimensional Characters Galore
The beginning of this book had me wanting to use each page of Dance of Shadows as a bookmark for other, and better, books I could've been reading instead. I shit you not, every character was dumb, one-dimensional and stereotypical.

Later in the book, though, a couple of them became actually distinguishable characters.

5): One of My Favorite Things Ever
One of my favorite things ever in literature is when the good guy/girl, in an act of shock and abruptness, reveals themselves as evil. One of my favorite things ever. I never suspect it and it always hits me like a big, yellow school bus that I should've seen but didn't. (I don't feel the need to insert the GIF here.)
It always makes me happy when this happens. I'm not going to say any more than that.

Black also does good with the timing of the reveals, but I'm not sure if that's her or the book packaging company responsible, so I won't credit her for it.

6): Takin' Yo' Sweet Ass Time
One thing about Dance of Shadows that reminded me a lot of Fallen, the other evil spawn of the Tinderbox book packaging company, was the way Black took her sweet-ass time setting everything up. This book was ~450 pages, when it really only had enough plot for like 350-375. This scenario was slightly more tolerable in this book than in Fallen, but it ground my gears sometimes, as was to be expected.

7): Love Who?
Perhaps my favorite things about this book was that the protagonist, Vanessa, although having many character flaws and quirks, was not afraid to be flirty and fun with guys.

I am shouting praises from the rooftops about this matter. Frankly, I'm done with YA protags who are afraid of kissing a boy and being a "slut," or, God forbid, doing so without confessing their undying love for each other first. There was also none of that in this book, which delighted me! You're not in love after three days, yo. Stop pretending.

8): Vanessa's Mom
Parental figures are a big thing in YA. They're either like this:

"I'm not like a regular mom; I'm a cool mom."

or super supportive and never letting you go for a second because they're overprotective and perfect and expect only the best from you and constantly worried about you.

This book's parental figures are the latter instance. They're the Overly-Attached Girlfriend meme of parents.

Vanessa's mother grated on me like none other. I understand having concerns, but she called Vanessa constantly, like there was nothing else for her to be doing but talking to her mother. Grrrrrrr. Parents sometimes.

Anyway, I'm going to wrap this up with some Mean Girls GIFs I couldn't find places to awkwardly insert but are still funny.

-Some Mean Girls GIFs I Couldn't Find Places to Awkwardly Insert But Are Still Funny

Profile Image for Christal.
936 reviews69 followers
February 13, 2013
See this review and others like it at BadassBookReviews.com!

Dance of Shadows had a fantastic premise and decent writing, but the execution ultimately did not live up to the hype. This book had too many plot holes, an inconsistent pacing, and a cast of one-note characters. Even though I enjoyed the world Yelena Black created within the New York Dance Academy, I cannot give this book a recommendation. I do think that Ms. Black has potential as a writer but I might give her time to get a few more books under her belt before I jump in again.

Vanessa Adler is attending the prestigous New York Academy dance school solely for the chance to look for her older sister, Margaret, who disappeared from the same program three years prior. What Vanessa soon finds out is that Margaret is only one of many dancers that have gone missing from the New York Academy. As the story moves along, a deadly twist is added to the plot and Vanessa soon finds herself and her friends in terrible danger. Sounds like an intriguing story, right? Well, not so much…

Things started out okay, but the plot just started to drag after a while and just became unbelievable. New York Academy is supposed to be one of the most prestigious dance programs in the US, but almost 30 ballerinas go missing and there is not so much as a police investigation? Nope, sorry, I can’t buy into that. People monitor patterns and that many girls “dropping out” would certainly raise a red flag. The second big issue I had with the plot is the fact that Vanessa’s parents let her attend the New York program in the first place. Vanessa is only fifteen, another aspect I had an issue with as her character voice and the others around her read older – more in the eighteen demographic. Vanessa and her parents had been told that Margaret had fallen in with a bad crowd and was possibly doing drugs before she ran away due to the extreme amounts of pressure she was under, so why would they allow their much younger daughter to be put in the same situation?

Vanessa herself was a glaring negative in this book. She had little to no personality and I just couldn’t connect to her as a character. She was so stubborn and selfish that she couldn’t be bothered to see the answers that were right in front of her face. She never really spent in time looking for her sister, even though she says that is why she is in New York, and instead spends most of her time in a stupid, immature “does he like me?” relationship with another ballet dancer, Zepplin “Zep” Grey. Aside from the really off-putting name, Zep was shady right from the beginning and Vanessa just refused to see it because he was so hot. Another dancer, Justin, constantly warns her about him and makes cryptic remarks about the things happening around them that would make most people ask questions, but no, not Vanessa. She pretty much just sits around and waits for other people to make decisions and then just follows them.

The other characters in the book were not much better. The previously mentioned Zep and Justin were given very little page time to develop into actual characters. Instead, their lines were usually used to either make Vanessa believe in her dancing skills or to warn her of impending doom. Vanessa’s friends TJ, Steffie, Elly, and Blaine were funny in the beginning of the book and helped to ground Vanessa into the world of the academy, but by about midway through they became completely disposable. The choreographer Josef was just a caricature of the horrible boss stereotype and his assistant Hilda was barely described before the final pages.

The times that this book shone were when Ms. Black was creating a creepy, uncertain atmosphere. A favorite scene in the book is during Halloween when Vanessa and TJ are running through the costumed crowd and they don’t know who anyone really is. Also, from my limited knowledge of ballet, the dance scenes were well-written. The pain and pressure that the dancers went through was very believable.

Though the ending of this book obviously sets up an opener for a new series, I don’t think I will be coming back for the second novel. If you like YA novels with suspense and slight paranormal aspects and can ignore a shaky plot, you might find this book a great read. Even though Dance of Shadows had an incredibly beautiful cover and intriguing setup, I just did not find it to be a satisfying read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for providing an ARC copy of this book!
Profile Image for Jaiden.
144 reviews69 followers
February 8, 2013
Originally posted at: Girls on YA Books

First...is this book really 447 pages?? Well, I guess that's one way to start off a positive review...This book flew by so fast I had no clue!! I completely submerged in this book not paying attention to the pages (or i this case, percentage finished). I just kept reading until I was done or needed to fangirl or vent on goodreads through status. Second...look at that fantabulous cover!! I don't care what anyone says or thinks...this cover has blown my mind. Its absolutely stunning and fits the story so wonderfully. I mean...I want to BE that cover just so I can be that pretty haha xD

Now, when I started this book I was really really excited! This is one I have had my eye on forever. When I got it on Netgalley I did a little jig ;D Then I started reading and BA-BAM!!! I was hit with the love-bug again haha So here I am enjoying this amazing book when I go to Goodreads and...and see negative reviews. *Mind blown* Seriously. I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that ANYONE would dislike this book. I mean it was SOOOO good! I fell hard for this book. I was literally lost in its pages and it was agony to stop reading it and do what I was supposed to do.

I will admit that I did start to find Vanessa annoying towards the end. I was screaming at the book for her to grow some sense and freaking listen to what she was being told. Seriously...she pissed me off at times but from the beginning and all other times I really enjoyed her character. She was strong and determined, loyal. I liked her. I especially loved the side characters. I think they were extremely well developed. The story was clean. No profanity or any real steaminess. There is romance intermixed with this delicious mystery but nothing seriously sexy and where I do like things to heat up from time to mind I found it refreshing and it wasn't something that needed to be missed. The story and mystery filled everything up!

(People are crazy on Goodreads people. Do NOT listen to what they say..listen to me ;D hahaha If you like a good mystery, some creep factor, humor, and a unique story line then listen to me and give this book a chance. I found the writing well done despite what people have said. The story, again, was extremely enthralling and interesting. The whole concept was so unique. I was glued to Dance of Shadows' pages. A beautiful and wonderful debut. I am looking forward to book two. There is so much I am hoping for from it.

I loved this book to pieces. I seriously don't think I can stress the greatness of this book any further. After I finished I was determining whether or not to start another book but I decided against it because I wanted to think about everything I had just read all night long. I wanted to absorb it all. Dance of Shadows is a gorgeous, dangerous and hauntingly beautiful piece of work. I am so in love with (content must be kept secret for it could be vital to all the mystery) now. The end made me sure of my love for him. All my doubts were swept away. I highly and I mean HIGHLY recommend you give it a try no matter what others are thinking. Read the bad reviews. Proceed with caution but TRY IT!!! Please. *begs* ;P

Now, I couldn't determine between a 4.5 and 5 after finishing this book and starting this review. Vanessa pissing me off in those few chapters would be the .5 deduction. I knew though whether it was 4.5 or 5 this book was a NEED book. But, while writing this review I got all these sparks back and all the genius and beauty it was came back and I finally made my decision (which is completely deserved).

5 of 5 wonderful stars!!!!!!! <3
Profile Image for Elaine.
347 reviews224 followers
February 12, 2013
Sigh, yet another book that fails to live up to it's gorgeous cover.

I was pretty excited for this because the premise sounded pretty promising and like what many have been saying, it could possibly be like the Black Swan of YA novels but unfortunately there were so many problems with this book that I honestly couldn't have liked it as much as I tried.
The largest problem of them all and one can basically kill or make a book for me are the characters. I can ay that there isn't a single character in the book that I liked or could relate to. Vanessa, as the female protagonist, was horribly one-dimensional, shallow and made pretty stupid decisions. I honestly couldn't understand or connect to Vanessa and it just felt like she didn't have a brain of her own. There were a few instances in the book (I'm going to just avoid spoilers) which should have raised the red flag but Vanessa chose to either ignore or she just refuses to acknowledge it's existence. The rest of the characters were equally flat and I honestly could barely even differentiate them at times.

The second issue that irked me was the insta-love and infatuation going on between Vanessa and Zeppelin. I mean, he freaking breaks up with his girlfriend before he even had a real conversation with Vanessa. R.I.G.H.T. Plus there was the pre-requisite love triangle with Justin, whom was supposed to be mysterious and all but just seems like a stalker to me.

Finally, the writing was really mediocre. I might not be the best judge of this but I can safely say that the writing, in no way, managed to engage nor captivate me one bit. It reads a bit awkward and the pace is horribly slow. Ballet-wise, I'm not a dancer so the terms and all were pretty fine by me, I can't say the same for a professional dancer or anyone else who has taken ballet though. I actually liked the prologue and was pretty intrigued but the book moved so slowly that I began to lose all interest. Well, that plus the less than awesome writing and flat characters. And the problem with having a prologue that clearly hints (a VERY strong hint that is) at paranormal ongoings in the school, is that you can't possibly move the book at a snail's pace or your reader is seriously going to get very frustrated at your protagonist for not figuring it out when it's already blatantly in the readers' faces. So yep, I think it's safe to say I won't be picking up the second book.

Also posted on rabbitsfortea
Profile Image for K.K. Summer.
Author 10 books64 followers
March 26, 2016
1.5 Sterne.

also iwie habe ich mir mehr erwartet - es war teilweise sehr langweilig und ich konnte die Charaktere nicht wirklich voneinander trennen da sie alle so gleich waren. noch dazu war es echt vorhersehbar.

also die Idee war gut aber die Umsetzung leider so gar nicht - schade.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews153 followers
January 25, 2013
Two Stars: The dangerous and dark side of ballet.
Vanessa hugs her parents tight as she bids them goodbye. This is it! She has achieved her dream of being a dancer at the elite New York School of Ballet. Vanessa clings to the hope that somehow she will find her missing sister, Margaret. Margaret was also an aspiring ballerina at the NYSB, who was cast as the lead in the Firebird Ballet as a freshman, only to disappear, a victim of the pressures of ballet. Yet, Vanessa does not believe, even after several years passed, that her sister just ran away without telling her, nor does she believe Margaret is dead. Vanessa will find her. Vanessa immediately catches the eye of the talented choreographer Josef as well as the handsome leading man, Zep. Vanessa soon is following in her sister's footsteps as she unexpectedly lands the role of the Firebird, the very same role her sister held before vanishing. Something sinister is happening at the school. Vanessa learns that her sister was among twenty ballerinas who suddenly disappeared from the school, all after being cast as the Firebird. Will Vanessa vanish as well?
What I Liked:
*I admit, I was shallow and immediately wanted to read this because of the amazing cover and I couldn't resist a story centered around ballet. That aspect of this book certainly didn't disappoint. The descriptions of the dancing are enchanting. I loved reading about the magic and mystery of ballet. The delicate ribboned shoes whispering across the floor as they move in a bewitching dance. Ms. Black does a tremendous job in not only bringing out the beauty of the ballet, but also the darker side as she relates the tremendous sacrifice, pressure and even pain that ballerinas must endure to be the best. I absolutely loved reading about everything that pertained to ballet.
*This book opens with the mention of Vanessa's sister's strange disappearance. From the get go, this story piles on the heavy, dark atmospheric tension. As the reader, you just know that something dark and dangerous is happening behind the scenes. Why have twenty girls over the years vanished after being cast as the lead in the Firebird Ballet? Is it really the crushing pressure of the performance or is it something more? The tension and mystery continue to build, with the promise of something paranormal, until you are on the edge of your seat wanting to uncover the sinister secrets at the NYSB.
*I enjoyed the writing in this one. Not only is there plenty of brilliant descriptions of ballet and the dancing, but there is also that perfect amount of tension and suspense that blend with engaging writing that kept me entertained.
And The Not So Much:
*While I appreciated the gorgeous descriptions of ballet and the atmospheric tension, the book faltered because it began to grow repetitious after awhile. It stalls with repeated and continued discussions about the missing ballerinas and the strange occurrences at the school. What bothered me the most about Vanessa's character was that it was clear to her from the beginning that something strange had happened with the disappearance of her sister without a trace from the school, and then once she and her friends uncover a whole line of ballerinas vanishing under similar circumstances. Despite the glaring evidence, and the sudden disappearance of a new friend, Elly, Vanessa still fails to believe that something is wrong. Either she was incredibly naive or stupid. Not only was she in danger, but she was also being warned to leave. This became a sticking point for me because she failed to act once she had all the evidence.
*The romance in this one is just a mess. Vanessa immediately attracts the attention of the enigmatic Zep, the male lead dancer. He starts leaving her notes and takes her on a few dates, but she never feels like the relationship is right. Furthermore, he is always vanishing without explanation, other than he is always with Josef. It is obvious that he is using her, but she fails to see that and continues to trust him, even though she is doubting him. On the other hand, there is Justin, another dancer who seems to know something about the occurrences at the school, but Vanessa refuses to listen to him and she is extremely rude to him throughout the book. At the end, Vanessa has this sudden change of heart that practically comes out of nowhere and it just doesn't work. Don't expect a good romance in this one, you will be disappointed.
*I struggled the most with Vanessa's parents. They were paranoid about losing Vanessa in the same way as Margaret, so why they agreed to let her go to the same school was strange. Once she is cast in the role of The Firebird, they should have been leery. Then Vanessa phones her mother on the verge of a breakdown, and her mother's response is get some rest!? Are you kidding me? They should have been in the car that minute to go get her and make sure she was okay. I just didn't buy her parents reactions. You would think they would be extremely vigilant terrified that they might lose Vanessa, and they are to a point, but their behavior just felt wrong to me.
*The entire story builds a case for one person to be the puppet master behind the disappearances, and then there is this big twist and the moment when a practically unknown character steps forward and claims responsibility. I didn't like this sudden bait and switch especially because I knew so little about the true villain.
*Finally, this book builds to a dramatic and somewhat exciting ending, only to leave you hanging. It isn't a terrible cliffhanger, but it is an open ending, one where the reader gets a few answers, but the majority of the questions are left unanswered. I can't believe I am saying this, but a big jaw dropping cliffhanger might have been better, because at this point, I was not impressed and really can't say that I feel compelled to continue the series.
Dance of Shadows was a book that started out with a lot of promise as it lured me in with the mesmerizing ballet and suspenseful story line, but the book lots its appeal with too much repetition, ridiculous behavior, unappealing romance and little resolution. While I loved the magic of the dancing, the rest fell a little flat. Perhaps, it just wasn't right for me. If you are looking for a book that blends ballet with suspense and a paranormal twist this might be a read for you. For me, it was a disappointment. Another case of beautiful cover on a not so great book.

Favorite Quotations:
"Her legs wove around each other with effortless grace, and her body followed, smooth and slippery, like a strip of satin gliding over the stage."
"She fell in with the wrong crowd, and the city ate her up. The pressures of ballet sometimes lead the weaker girls to drugs, and that leads to lost girls."
"Happiness was always complicated."
"On the first day of classes, the heat broke in a deluge of biblical proportions. Water sloshed down the streets, and black umbrellas bloomed along the sidewalks, making Manhattan even more anonymous."
"The better you are, the more pressure everyone puts on you to keep being good. And once you're at the top, the fall to the bottom is a lot longer and more painful."
"For us, life and dance are not separate. Dance your life."
"You're alive, angry, passionate. You're not dancing, you're living. I can see it in your eyes."

A big thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews545 followers
January 17, 2013
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Hauntingly beautiful story with a mystery that will keep you guessing through the whole book.

Opening Sentence: In the harsh glare of the lights, Chloe’s shadow stretched across the stage.

The Review:

Vanessa Adler is a freshman starting at the most elite ballet school in the country, The New York Ballet Academy. Her sister Margret attended the same school but she disappeared 3 years ago and was never heard from again. Vanessa enjoys dancing but her main purpose for going to the academy is to find out what happened to her sister. She has always been a really talented dancer. There are times when she gets so into the dance that things start to melt away and change around her. It has always made her a little nervous to just let go and be the best dancer she can be, because she is afraid to lose herself. The teachers notice that Vanessa is an amazing dancer and she ends up being cast as the female lead in the upcoming production of The Firebird. She is both honored and scared, because it turns out Margret isn’t the only girl to have gone missing. Over the last 20 years there have been many girls from the school that have gone missing and almost all of them were cast as the lead in the ballet. Vanessa knows that something strange is going on but she just can’t figure out what. One thing is for sure, she needs some answers before she’s the next one to go missing.

While at the school she meets the mysterious, gorgeous Zeppelin Black. He has been cast as the male lead in the upcoming production of The Firebird. Vanessa is instantly attracted to Zep, but she can’t quite figure out if he likes her or not. At times he seems interested, but other times he is very distant and he never seems to open up to her. Vanessa really likes Zep but at times it just feels like something is missing between them except for when they dance. Dancing with Zep is a love story all on its own, the way he touches her and makes her feel is indescribable. Vanessa just has to figure out if he feels the same way. I really like Zep as a character. He is beautiful but always a little withdrawn. He seems to care for Vanessa, but something is holding him back. There is some great chemistry between the two but at times it seems a little forced.

Then there is Justin. He is constantly getting on Vanessa’s nerves. Justin knew Margret when she attended the Academy and he was always suspicious about her disappearance. He seems to always have something negative to say to Vanessa and he is always warning her to stay away from Zep. She has a hard time trusting Justin because he seems to know more than he’s telling Vanessa. At times he can come across as concerned and sweet but other times he is just mean to her. I actually loved Justin right off the bat. He is witty and cute, but you never really know what his motives are. I think he and Vanessa are adorable together, but you don’t get much romance between them in this book. I hope to see a lot more Justin in book 2.

Vanessa is a great Heroine and I really connected easily with her. She is a young girl trying to figure out her life and find out what happened to her sister. She works really hard at dancing and she is amazing at it. There are times when she is a little naïve especially when it comes to boys, but she is young and inexperienced. Yes she wasn’t perfect but I really liked her anyway. By the end she is a stronger better person and I am excited to see what her future holds in the upcoming books.

Honestly, like I said earlier this book was hauntingly beautiful. Surprisingly the pacing was a little slow but it kept me intrigued the whole way through. There were twists and turns that I didn’t expect and I was guessing the whole way through the book. The writing made all the difference in this book. When Black would describe the dance scenes, I could really picture everything in my head very vividly. I am not a dancer at all but I like dance and have learned to appreciate the art in it. Black captures the essence and wonder of dance in her beautifully written words. The only thing that I didn’t love was the ending. I felt that it didn’t quite go with the rest of the book, but it did set up an interesting premises for the next book. I am really excited to see where the author takes the story and I will defiantly be reading the next book in the series. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes mystery, dance or a good paranormal read.

Notable Scene:

“Love.” He pressed his leg against hers until her toe slid across the floor. “You need me. You want me. You’ve always wanted me. But you can’t have me.”

Vanessa listened to his words, feeling them pulse through her veins. She arched her back in a painful plea.

“Fate is against us,” he whispered. “Still, you offer yourself to me. You seduce me.”

His arms fluttered before her, and slowly, she arched her body into an arabesque, giving herself to him.

“I try to resist you, but I cannot.”

Vanessa felt herself grow weak as he pressed himself against her. She leaned into him, letting his hands roam up her body as if they weren’t dancing at all, but merging into one. She closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of his sweat.

“But our love is violent. It cannot last, I cast you off.”

Suddenly the rhythm changed, and Zep thrust her away. Spotting him, she spun across the floor.

“You don’t understand. You beg me. You ask me why I can’t love you.”

Vanessa threw herself down before him. For the first time, the dance seemed to make sense, and slowly, she lost herself to it. The steps were strange; there was no getting away from that. But with Zep guiding her, Vanessa began to feel it.

FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury provided me with a copy of Dance of Shadows. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,615 reviews
October 19, 2018
This book was different from a lot of books I've read. The plot about a dancer who goes to a famous ballet school and then discovers girls have been disappearing wasn't something I've really seen before. I liked the mystery and intrigue of the story although I was frustrated that no one would tell Vanessa what was actually going on. Everyone was so sketchy and I just wanted to Vanessa to demand answers! The beginning was a little boring but I did pick up and the ending was cool. Overall not a bad read.
Profile Image for Ravenclaw251.
475 reviews25 followers
December 23, 2018
SUCH a beautiful cover! I wanted to like the story more, but I just felt a disconnect that I can't really explain.
Profile Image for Nara.
937 reviews124 followers
January 12, 2015
Full review can be found here

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.
Profile Image for Desirae.
2,020 reviews139 followers
July 12, 2015

OKAY, THE COVER!!! OMG!! That alone prompted me to buy the book.


And as for the synopsis of Dance of Shadows sounddeedd really interesting, and I really, really, really wanted it to be as amazing as its packaging indicated it would be, but alas, no such luck.

First of all, let's take a minute to realise the main character, Vanessa, love interest's name is Zeppelin. Keep in mind he's a dark-haired hunk with swelling biceps, not a Hindenburg-like airship. That is dumb. People do not name other people after airships. Second, their relationship doesn't feel natural or believable, it feels like something is deeply wrong with it. Sometimes Vanessa and Zep would have fights and on the next day were back to grinding against each other like mad dogs, as if nothing had happened at all. Before even talking to each other, he left her creepy notes telling her she "shined in every way", and Vanessa would almost tear her hair out whenever Zeppelin was with his girlfriend. That when she wasn't busy planning all her dates with a guy she saw once. What?

There's also how Vanessa refuses to listen to Justin (blonde-haired hunk with swelling biceps, also not an airship) every single time he tries to warn her about something. It's basically as if someone you knew kept telling you "Hey, can we talk? I really have some important information that might help save your sorry butt", and you just did the whole dismissive wave thing at him and went "Nah, that can wait."

The writing was fair to middling, some nice metaphors and pretty descriptions filling in here and there, but sometimes scenes would make absolutely no sense. In one scene, Vanessa is sitting while everyone gets up to leave, as she should, as well. Her friend is beside her, but she's momentarily distracted by something. When Vanessa turns back, everyone is gone. It wasn't like she was entranced for dozens of seconds as people queued out of the room. Vanessa was distracted for one measly second and suddenly everyone's disappeared. Again, what?

I also felt like the reveal could have been worked at a little better. I get what Yelena Black was trying to do, but it felt rather rushed and honestly, not scary at all. In the end, I guess i just expected way more. I probably won't pick up the sequel, and Dance of Shadows wasn't nearly shadowy enough for me.
Profile Image for Meg.
86 reviews10 followers
February 11, 2013
I just... ugh. Where to even begin?

This book contains two of my pet peeves: Wasted Potential and some serious, idiocy both on behalf of the characters and on behalf of (what the book assumes is) the target audience.

Let's get into the wasted potential, shall we? This book begins from the premise that dancing in itself is magic. That the right dancer performing the right dance perfectly can transcend the ordinary and break down the barriers between our world and the next.

That is an awesome idea. Not least because dancing most certainly has a bit of magic in it. To turn that magic into something real and somewhat sinister and supernatural is a brilliant idea. To tie it into a mystery is another great idea.

Unfortunately, all of these brilliant ideas all seem to coalesce into a plot that is stunning in its stupidity. I'm going to spoiler tag most of this just in case you've recently suffered brain damage and can't pick all of this up in the first 50 pages.

In conclusion- Ugh. This book makes me angry and I don't want to expend thought on it any longer.
Profile Image for Benna.
75 reviews
December 26, 2012
This was one of the largest amounts of time I have ever wasted in my life...not that it took me very long to read. The characters were boring and under developed apart from one, who was not even a protagonist, merely a foreshadowed character who was not given the chance to develop but squashed like a fly. Dance of Shadows was like reading a messed up fanfic of Twilight-I know what you're thinking; Can Twilight get even more twisted and messed up than it is already? Well, as it turn out-yes it can. However, I was glad I read it because it gave me a new perspective towards Twilight...as less disturbing. Don't misunderstand me now-I love the Twilight movies except I can never understand why most DVD stores and rental sights categorise them under Fantasy/Drama/Romance if I owned a DVD store Twilight and subsequent movies would all be under comedy!

But I digress, to return to the book of which I first began to speak: Dance of Shadows. Don't read it you will be wasting your life even more than you do when you are on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr. Lacking in plot, characterisation, use of vocabulary, imagery, symbolism and pretty much every other literary device, including grammar and punctuation AND EVEN sentence structure. Admittedly I read an uncorrected proof, so I desperately hope that they (being the author and editors) rewrote the entire novel (does it deserve the term novel I wonder?) and then burnt it and rewrote it again. Usually when I read books about which I am doubtful, I am pleasantly surprised, which I love, OR the novel has potential. For example when James Patterson stuck his name on the cover of 'Witch and Wizard' by Gabrielle Charbonnet (please excuse me if I misquoted either of those authors names-my memory fails me after two weeks of solid exams) I truly believed that the novel had potential, it felt restrained, and I was disappointed. So moral of the story; don't waste your time, money and intelligence reading Dance of Shadows. Instead read something stimulating, with characters so deep you can't feel the bottom and a plot so brilliant you never see what is coming.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
84 reviews27 followers
March 17, 2020
If the ratings bar had 100 stars, this would be the book I would use it on.

I don't know if it is because I dance, or because I dance and I love mystery, but I LOVED this book.

Now I know, most reviews you will see did had really low ratings, but it is probably because they can't see the creativity in this book. Yes, there were some parts that I found myself skimming, but that is not the point. This book had great thought detail and had nice imagery. It kinda felt like I was there.

Vanessa's older sister, Margaret, had once gone to NYBA (New York Ballet Academy) and was put as the lead role for The Firebird. Right before The Firebird was supposed to open, Margaret disappeared. The main reason why Vanessa is going to NYBA, is to find her sister. Vanessa is a beautiful dancer and often finds herself lost in her dance movements. Everyone around her just disappears and the walls thin. But, she doesn't have a passion for dance like her sister did.

When she gets to the academy, she makes friends quickly. She meets this cute older guy, Zep, who everyone is after, but he is after her. The performance that they have to get ready for, is oddly enough, The Firebird. She knows she has no chance of getting a role because all the roles go to seniors, but when the cast list goes up she sees this.

Vanessa Adler....................... Firebird

She is astonished by this. She is a Freshmen, a Freshman! As the practices go on for this production, she is surprised that an additional dance to The Firebird, is what the choreographer is having them work on the most. He says it is an additional dance that is really hard, that is why most productions of The Firebird don't have it in there. But later she realizes that this dance opens up a portal to another dimension. And she, as the lead dancer, will be in for something out of this world. Does she go through with it? You will just have to read and find out.

Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
October 22, 2018
Interesting ...

That's one word to describe Dance of Shadows. It wasn't what I thought it would be like and in a way, I kind of liked that. In it you will be introduced to the world of ballet. You will also meet Vanessa, who is sort of on the mission to find out what the hell happened to her sister many years ago. What does she do? Well, she plans to go to the same ballet school that she did. While there she meets some friends, dances to her hearts content, sort of finds love, and gets closer and closer to solving the mystery.

Besides her sister disappearing, lots of girls from this ballet school go missing. One of them happens to be her friend Elly, and it was just kind of sudden that she's gone. Convenient but sudden. Then there's the love interest of Zeb, interesting name but there was something off about him. Whether it was his own darkness or something else.. I just couldn't trust him one hundred percent. Especially once that ending came and a twist was shoved into my face.

Again, this mystery book had a bunch of twists and turns and I couldn't pinpoint one specific suspect. Luckily for me, there was a shit ton of those. The one thing I would fix about this book is the beginning. It was so boring and I just didn't care about her mom being all crazy protective of her. Nor the teachers being twats. I'm just glad that the book picked up - it just sucked that I got shoved all this greatness towards the end of the book.

Overall, you bet your ass that I'm going to dive into the second book.
Profile Image for Tessa Vanden broeck.
339 reviews13 followers
August 9, 2016
Echt wel een boek dat je meesleept in de balletwereld. En je hoeft niets te weten van ballet om te volgen. De meeste termen zijn gewoon danspassen en de rest volg je vanzelf. De dansen worden zo goed beschreven dat ik ze gewoon voor mij zag toen ik ze las. Het is een spannend en mysterieus verhaal met een goede plot. Het is een afgesloten verhaal, hoewel je toch reikhalzend uitkijkt naar het 2de deel.
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