Dance of Shadows

Dance of Shadows

3.6 18
by Yelena Black, Yelana Black

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Vanessa has just enrolled in the world-renowned New York Ballet Academy--the same school from which her sister, Margaret, mysteriously disappeared.

Three years later, Vanessa follows in Margaret's footsteps to find out what happened to her. But when Vanessa lands the role most girls at NYBA would kill for, she ends up trapped in a sinister spiral of secrets that

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Vanessa has just enrolled in the world-renowned New York Ballet Academy--the same school from which her sister, Margaret, mysteriously disappeared.

Three years later, Vanessa follows in Margaret's footsteps to find out what happened to her. But when Vanessa lands the role most girls at NYBA would kill for, she ends up trapped in a sinister spiral of secrets that go beyond the dance world. Because someone--or something--wants to use Vanessa for more than her talent. Is she doomed to relive her sister's strange fate?

Riveting and sexy, Dance of Shadows is a psychological thriller you won't be able to resist.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Black debuts with a paranormal twist on the hypercompetitive world of professional ballet school, first in a planned trilogy. When 15-year-old Vanessa Adler is accepted to the prestigious New York Ballet Academy, more awaits her than she expected, including a decades-long mystery of disappearing ballerinas, a hidden diary, sadistic rituals (upperclassmen demand a “blood sacrifice” from new recruits), and demonic possession. The novel swerves between thriller territory (will Vanessa discover whatever became of her vanished older sister?), coming-of-age angst (does sexy dancer Zeppelin Black consider Vanessa his girlfriend?), and customary dancer rivalries (why was Vanessa, a freshman, cast as lead in The Firebird?), with a romantic triangle, themes of dominance and submission, and a strained relationship between Vanessa and her mother also in the mix. Although the supporting cast is only superficially developed, the story gains traction as it focuses on otherworldly elements, including revelations of legends of demons called forth by means of a mysterious dance. Black pulls off an enticingly eerie conclusion, setting the stage for the next book. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer, the Inkhouse. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Mary Thompson
Vanessa applies to the New York Ballet Academy in order to discover what happened to her sister Margaret who disappeared from the school after being cast in the lead role of The Firebird during her freshman year. It will come as no surprise that Vanessa is also chosen for the lead role by the overbearing, perfectionist choreographer, Josef. The male role is given to the gorgeous and charming Zeppelin. He takes a keen interest in Vanessa despite his relationship with senior queenbee Anna. Although another classmate, Justin, advises Vanessa to avoid Zep, his secretive and standoffish manner keeps her from heeding his words. Along with the usual struggles (initiation rites, grueling schedules and senior cliques), Vanessa and her friends are trying to solve the mystery of Margaret's disappearance. When one of her friends inexplicably drops out and the school seems oddly unconcerned, the girls' research leads them to some frightening information about the school's bizarre reputation for student disappearances; they find each missing person is cast in the lead role to perform Josef's tailor-made "Danse du Feu." Black's portrayal of the rehearsal room with its eerie blackened wall, white dancing silhouettes, demonic summoning, and ritualistic dancing take this teen romance to the next level. The story starts slow but picks up pace with the added supernatural element. The descriptions of the ballet steps and routines are realistic and add to the believability of the plot. This debut balances teen romance, mystery, and the occult. Its cliffhanger ending leaves the reader anxious for more. Reviewer: Mary Thompson
VOYA - Margaret Capobianco
As fifteen-year-old Vanessa begins her first year of studies at an elite ballet academy in New York City, she is determined to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her older sister Margaret’s disappearance from the school three years earlier. Immediately, Vanessa gets the feeling there is something more sinister going on in the school than ballet. While she does meet a new group of supportive friends, the upperclassmen and instructors at the school appear to be hiding something about Margaret. Suddenly, one of Vanessa’s friends goes missing, causing Vanessa to delve deeper into the school’s past. It seems there is a pattern of missing ballerinas, all of whom had been chosen as the lead for the school’s main production. Eerie reality sets in when Vanessa sees the shadows of the vanished ballerinas. What she discovers is a pattern of disturbing coincidences regarding all the ballerinas chosen for the lead role in the school’s winter production. Vanessa is unsure who she can trust, but she will never give up until she finds the truth about what happened to her sister. This debut novel is the first in a new series and is written so dynamically that the reader quickly becomes absorbed in the world of a highly competitive ballet academy combined with an occult element. This twist into the paranormal causes the reader to cheer Vanessa on in hopes that she will solve her sister’s disappearance and get to the bottom of the disturbing pattern of evil that has existed at the school. The author has cleverly combined both worlds so that this book has appeal for both teen boys and girls. Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—An ending that can't gracefully suspend disbelief follows a middle that drags on far too long in this paranormal ballet melodrama. The novel begins with sinister initiations, ravishing lead male dancers, and instant BFFs at the New York Ballet Academy, where Vanessa studies just three years after her sister disappeared during her tenure there. Ballet is a family tradition, but Vanessa's passion for dancing is not her deepest motivation for attending the school. She wants to find her sister, or at least learn what happened to her. Joseph, the school's temperamental, perfectionistic choreographer, has decided to try, once again, to stage Stravinsky's The Firebird, the same ballet that was canceled after Margaret vanished. Vanessa is distracted by gorgeous senior Zep, already cast as Prince Ivan, who seems to have eyes for her even though he is involved with senior queen-bee Anna. It seems a foregone conclusion that newcomer Vanessa will be his Firebird, despite her freshman status, but she remains unsettled by bizarre happenings, like dorm-friend Elly suddenly and untraceably leaving school. The strange basement practice room at adjacent Lincoln Center with burn marks on the floor and white outlines of dancers surrounded by ash on the walls creeps Vanessa out. Cryptic warnings from Justin, the third side of a love triangle, about the dangers of the school accompany plot developments that spin things from improbable to impossible. Secret conspiracies seeking dark power through dance and an ancient secret society to combat them finally pirouette the plot right off the stage. Not likely to receive standing ovations from any but the least demanding readers.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Kirkus Reviews
An overheated debut mixes high-stakes ballet education with the occult. Fifteen-year-old Vanessa, though astonishingly gifted, didn't apply to the ultraprestigious New York Ballet Academy because she wants a career in dance--she did it in the hope of finding her older sister, Margaret, who disappeared from the school after being cast as the Firebird as a freshman three years ago. Once at NYBA, she draws the attention of choreographer Josef and two senior boys, the obnoxious Justin and the lustrous-eyed Zeppelin (a name so hilariously unballetic it could only have been meant ironically--except it seems not to be). It will surprise no one except the catty senior girls that Vanessa is cast as the Firebird, just as her sister was before….Vanessa's investigation proceeds in fits and starts; irritatingly, an early mystical warning she receives during a hazing incident is dropped. That she does not recall this while rehearsing the mysterious "Danse du Feu" in an underground studio whose charred walls are interrupted only by the white silhouettes of dancers, one of whom resembles Margaret and that sometimes seem to dance with her, will have readers grinding their teeth. A lengthy midsection devolves into a rushed and chaotic conclusion that turns out to be little more than a setup for a sequel. Care and attention to details of the ballet cannot compensate for slipshod plotting; both balletomanes and urban-fantasy fans should look elsewhere. (Urban fantasy. 13-16)

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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