Care and attention to details of the ballet cannot compensate for slipshod plotting; both balletomanes and urban-fantasy...

DANCE OF SHADOWS

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)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59990-940-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway.

PHANTOM HEART

Stephanie and her family move into an old mansion rumored to have been put under a curse after a turn-of-the-20th-century rich boy meddled with an Egyptian mummy.

After her young sister complains about strange events, high school student Stephanie befriends Lucas, a geeky, good-looking boy, and meets the other members of SPOoKy, the Scientific Paranormal Organization of Kentucky: Charlotte, Wes, and Patrick. Stephanie learns the history of her new home from Lucas, who attracts her romantic attention, but the usually levelheaded girl is soon drawn to Erik, the handsome phantom who first comes to her in dreams. The story is told in chapters narrated by Stephanie, Lucas, and Zedok, whose identity is initially a source of confusion to Stephanie. Zedok appears wearing different masks, “personified slivers” of his soul, representing states of mind such as Wrath, Madness, and Valor. Meanwhile, until gifted singer Stephanie came along and he could write songs for her, Erik’s dreams were thwarted; he wanted to be a composer but his family expected him to become a doctor. In the gothic horror tradition, Erik’s full background and connection with Zedok are slowly revealed. Romantic dream sequences are lush and swoon-y, but the long, drawn-out battle to end the curse, aided by a celebrity clairvoyant, is tedious, and the constant introduction of Erik’s different personae is confusing. Most characters default to White; Patrick is Black.

The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11604-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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