Book Review: A Midnight Dance

The best moments in dance are the unscripted ones.

Synopsis

All theatre romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most–and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theatre.

Yet as she struggles to maintain her tenuous place in the ever-shrinking ballet company, win the attentions of principal dancer Philippe, and avoid company flirt Jack, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the dead ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own tragic end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the past?

Review

Outside of reading, theatre is my passion, although I’m an actor, not a dancer. Along with many other girls I attended ballet classes when I was small; while I love the grace and beauty of it, I prefer to perform with words. That said, I still regularly visit the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, allowing myself to be swept up in the magic of the music and movement.

A Midnight Dance looks at the world of ballet in the Victorian period, one of my favourite eras. Although this book looks at the beauty of ballet, there is a darker story underneath, which provides an extra depth.

As we learn about Ella’s family, the choices she’s made and the struggles she’s faced, we understand her reservations about love, life and loyalty. The Victorians may have had a morbid fascination with death, but they were also questioning religion and this is handled well; Ella remains devout, but other characters are not.

Romance is painfully PG, but keeps in character and doesn’t detract from the story. I would question the willingness of Ella to be alone in the company of so many different men, considering her principles. It would also have been nice to hear more about Ella and her sister and how Lily’s decisions have shaped her.

Characters are compelling, but perhaps not as strong as they could be; Ella has elements of stubbornness and passion, but could’ve had a bit more gumption, considering what she was attempting to achieve. Other characters hover in the background for much of the book, before being granted a bit more time at the end. But this is very much a plot-driven story and that is what gives the story its charm.

Politano creates a wonderful picture of Victorian London; less grim than some historic novels, there are still elements of the underworld and the division between the classes and the disdain with which audience members view the performers. There is also plenty of mystery and intrigue; we may think we know where the story is going, but then a twist throws us off entirely.

However, I still really enjoyed it. Magical, mesmerising and moving, A Midnight Dance is a lovely tale of determination, drama and daring.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Love Book Tours. All opinions my own.

For creative book and theatre reviews, visit @Paradise_Library on Instagram.

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