Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The more I thought about it, the less I liked this - originally I thought 3 stars... then 2.5... now it's 2. And for me to not like a book set in a fictional version of SAB? That's saying something.
First of all, I never cared about the characters. They all seemed to be stock creatures: the pretty mean girl. the gay boy friend. the good looking and talented senior who falls for the freshman. etc. the obligatory love triangle. the mean teachers. Not one of them had anything that was original.
Then there's the plot. Yes, the paranormal element was interesting (who didn't love "The Red Shoes"?) but the rest? Pacing issues abounded. Take Elly's disappearance - there's a flurry of activity and caring, then it disappears for pages and chapters and then reappears. Why wouldn't the girls have followed up more on the note/rosin package? It gets totally ignored for the longest time. And the dancing is so unclear, particularly the La Danse du Feu. What steps are being done? Is it anything like the Giselle mad scene? Particularly during the rehearsals it would have been so helpful, but instead we just hear how Vanessa feels (and there's a whole lot too much telling, not enough showing). I could go on, about the Lyric Elite and Justin and so much more, but, why bother?
And then the world is not fully realized. A brief chapter on the lives of the dancers at the school would have helped set the story more clearly: they have morning and afternoon classes, but what about academics (they're touched on, but do they take all subjects? I know that many SAB students go to PCS for academics, or are in on-line programs; what about these kids?), and in those dance classes are they done as an entire school? by ability level? are they all the same class or is it partnering vs barre vs ?? Maybe I just know too much about the real NYBA.
Finally, this is the start of a series? Please God, no.
ARC provided by publisher.