ARIA OF THE SEA by Dia Calhoun


Age Range: 11 - 15
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A gifted teenager agonizes over career choices while learning to separate her desires from those of others in this leisurely ballet-school fantasy from the author of Firegold (1999). Forget about a credible plot line. Believing that she has failed the entrance exam, Cerinthe finds a way into the School of Royal Dancers as a laundry maid. In fact, she received top marks, and once she’s discovered she’s not only promoted over the heads of others, but also given a lead role in an upcoming production staged for the royal family. There are two flies in the ointment, however: an arrogant, vicious rival, Elliana; and, in the wake of her failure to save her own mother’s life after an accident, her utter refusal to use her training in herb lore and healing to help those in need. The author, a trained dancer, vividly evokes the school’s high-strung atmosphere, as well as the joys and challenges of dance. She is not so sure-handed with characters, though, as aside from Cerinthe and Elliana no one here steps beyond wafer-thin conventional supporting roles, and as Cerinthe chews over one inner conflict or another the story’s pace sometimes slows to a crawl. Still, melodramatic incidents are not confined to the stage, Cerinthe’s final realization that dance is not her deepest vocation is not easily achieved, and Elliana, driven, physically abused, mentally unbalanced though she may be, is allowed the potential to change, perhaps in a sequel. The intensity may flag here and there, but when it peaks, readers will be drawn in. Elegant cover illustration, too. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-890817-25-2
Page count: 262pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000


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