Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury February 12th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal and Mystery!
Series: Yes, first of series.
Other Books From Author: Nope, it’s her debut

I received this for review from the publisher, but this in no way swayed my opinions, promise!

Amazon | Goodreads |  @TheYelenaBlack |

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 . . .

“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.


41 thoughts on “Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

  1. BAH, it sucks to have characters that frustrate you so much. I read books where the main characters are very unrelatable and I never understood how they make such decisions. Great review anyway, and you’ve made me curious about “sinister force” and ballet, I would not have imagined them to have any relation!

    • Hmm yeah that was the sort of situation between Vanessa and I :/ There were many times I felt like knocking her on her head so that she can come to her senses! Glad my review sparked some interest in you, magic and ballet go very well together :D

  2. Great review :D Ah, I’m sorry you didn’t love this book so much. But I’m glad you enjoyed it, still :) Hope the sequel will be better for you :D I’m not sure if this would be a book for me, but it does sound sweet. <3 (Psst, about Siege and Storm.. There isn't a love triangle in it. But might be in book three. Maybe.)
    Love, Carina @ Carina’s Books

    • Thank you, Carina! Yup, I loved exploring the mystery and paranormal aspect to Dance of Shadows, but some characters just got on my nerves, but definitely still hopeful for the sequel :)

      What’s that supposed to mean? She’s going to fall for another guy? Over Mal?! :O To be honest, for the first 80% of Shadow and Bone, I loved the idea of Alina and the Darkling (he’s too hot for his own good) but… THAAAAAAT END OH NO NO NO NO NO D:

      • lol :D No, she doesn’t fall for another guy :) But some things happen in the sequel. Nothing bad, really. But yeah. She does almost kiss someone else.. nothing too much about the Darkling in the second book, at least not for me :D I don’t like him (A) But sniffs. Mal is amazing. And lol, ending of Shadow and Bone was so good :D but evil.

      • Things are getting so complicated! Rahh, I purged for Siege and Storm reviews and all of them mention how then Darkling barely appears /sniffs/ Why don’t you like him? I thought he was the most enigmatic villian! :D Mal’s sweet but there wasn’t much of him in Shadow and Bone for me to fall in love with his character, STILL SUPER DUPER EAGER FOR SIEGE AND STORM /GRABBY HANDS/

    • See, I didn’t like The Darkling because he was a love interest (A) He is a great villain. And I do like him. Just, yeah. Not as a love interest :D I hate love triangles :p and Mal is just perfect. <3

      • OHHHH I get it :) From the moment I saw the Darkling, I expected him and Alina to be together! I actually never considered Mal since he disappeared for a good 60% of the book… explains why the Darkling’s final revelation shattered me and why I want so much for them to be real </3 But I understand why you'll want Darkling to stay in his villianry because gaah I can totally imagine him with billowing black robes and summoning all the dark forces while Mal is always so sweet and playful and cute with Alina ^-^

      • Ahh, okay ;) Well, I never thought that about the Darkling (A) lol. I just never liked him, because from the beginning I wanted Mal and Alina together.. Hih. <3 lol, yeah, he is a great villain :) but I found Mal to be a much better love interest. <3 he's just amazing. And so sweet and cute :D

  3. Lol, if I were you, I’ll just give it that one star more! Dance is da best, it has a vibe that glues me to my seat while watching (wow that trailer… Kinds of awesome :D) But eeeeks, Vanessa is one tough character to love! Love triangles can be terrible and knowing full well that the main character put her trusts wrongly is the worst feeling ever. Great review, gobo! This must be my nicest comment ^-^

    • Easy for you to say, but I still think certain flaws make Dance of Shadows not as good as the other books on the 4-star band. It’s the worst case of 当局者迷,旁观者清: I was so exasperated by how naïve Vanessa is I actually whisper-shouted on the bus,”Don’t tell him, don’t tell him, don’t tell him!!”

      And she still did :( Haha, thanks for the very helpful comment? xD

    • Even if you have no idea about ballet, Yelena Black’s description of the dances will surely make you love the elegance of it all! Haha I have no idea why I’m recommending this book so much even though it isn’t that good, wonders what ballet can make you do xD Thank you for dropping by!

  4. Great review. I saw this book and thought about picking it up–still might. It can be terribly frustrating though when you can clearly see what the main character can not and you are forced to watch them make mistake after mistake. Still the dancing and the mystery have me intrigued. Thanks!

    • I don’t write this off because the weaving of mystery and dance was splendidly done! I guess it’s a matter of personal preference, I’ll prefer to be clueless along with the main protagonist and be surprised by the twists along with her– not before her!

    • This is my first attempt at dance books and I probably shouldn’t have had the sky-high expectations. Before reading, I took a screenshot of the cover page, screenshot of the credits page, screenshot of the first chapter… And yeah you get the idea, haha! xD

  5. I hear a lot of people complaining about exactly what you complained about. I can relate when you said you wanted to give it a better star rating. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • Phew, I was still worried that my issue with Vanessa has something to do with clashing horoscopes or unfortunate star alignments or something crazy like that! Hmm… I guess Vanessa really isn’t the most lovable character, and thank you for stopping by :)

  6. Aww, I’m a bit disappointed to see that this was only 3 stars! However, I’m definitely going to be picking this book up, just for my love of dance and ballet. It must be so frustrating to read about such a clueless character. The mystery sounds great, but if it can’t be done well.. >.< I'm still quite curious about the entire story as a whole though. Thanks for being honest, and beautiful review, Alicia! :)

    • Reasons why I couldn’t resist Dance of Shadows
      1. Ballet
      2. Ballet
      3. BALLET!!

      The ballet will definitely satisfy you, so will the mystery, I had zero idea what the dark power behind everything is until the last few chapters! Though I’ll suggest you don’t have too high expectations, this is still worth the read ^-^

    • I know how mixed reviews feel– you’ll be torn whether to pick it up or not!


      There is nothing bad about the idea, just the execution failed me a little, you should still consider giving it a chance because you might end up loving it more than I did ^-^

  7. I had heard that the characters left a lot to be desired, but because of the ballet element and that cover, I know I’m going to have to pick this book up. I just can’t help myself. I used to dance when I was younger, and I can’t ignore the fact that this book is about ballet.

    Shame you couldn’t give this book more than three stars, but at least that’s a solid three star rating! :)

    • If you love ballet, you’ll love the ballet treat in Dance of Shadows! Yes, the characters do get very annoying and eye-roll-deserving in my opinion but you’ll survive them I guess? :D

      Arghh star ratings give me a big headache, I’m still deciding whether I should do away with it…

      • Yes, it might just be easy to write a review with no star rating… Hmmm…

        Hopefully I’ll survive the characters! haha.

  8. I have been looking forward to this book for awhile now and can’t wait to read it. Glad that you liked it, for the most part. Ugh, I hate it when the main character is clueless when the decision is really obvious…so frustrating! And, a love triangle? I’m so sick of those. Lol. But, I still want to read it! Thanks for the review. :)

    • It’s out today!! I’m quite conflicted on whether I should recommend you to read this but the WOW-factor was stupefying. Yup, the clueless main character and not-so-well-done love triangle irked me… But that’s not going to be so major if you focus on the paranormal aspects :) Thank you for following and that’s really sweet! I thought I should customize my reviews and to be honest, I borrowed the banner idea from all the other blogs so not much credit on my part!

      • Oh, haha. Well, maybe you do it slightly different or something, because it caught my eye more than other blogs’ banners do! :) I would like to do something like that for my blog, but I’m sadly not the most creative person in the world!

      • Creativity isn’t my thing either, but it feels good seeing something entirely yours instead of the book cover that everyone can get ^-^ You might want to try it too, the process of making was very fulfilling and you’ll love that sense of satisfaction!

  9. I LOL’d at the fact that you drew a table for pros and cons! That’s kind of funny! I’m really bummed that you didn’t enjoy this one more. I haven’t read it, but I really wanted to… until I started seeing all the 3 star (and lower) reviews. And what you said would really frustrate me too: “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.” That kind of thing drives me NUTS!! UGH!!

    I am glad you did enjoy this book a little bit, but bummer that it wasn’t better!

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