I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Published by Swoon Reads on October 17th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
When the music stops, the dance begins.
Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.
But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.
The Midnight Dance was a lyrical, intriguing, and unique read that intertwined many different genres. It was mostly historical fiction with a hint of science fiction (not quite steampunk) and dashes of a psychological thriller and a mystery. It was somewhat of a darker read and I think it would have been incredible if the concept had been taken a bit further and developed a bit more. As it is, The Midnight Dance was a quick and slightly creepy read.
Penny is a dancer at the Grande Teatro, a private and selective school for ballerinas. Isolated from the world, Penny and her fellow ballerinas train for the Midnight Dance, a yearly celebration hosted by their patron, the Master, to showcase their skill. However, as Penny experiences flashes of memories that show a very different history than the one she remembers, she begins searching for the truth. Assisted by Cricket, the kitchen boy, Penny must find a way to escape the school and the Master before she forgets again.
The Midnight Dance starts off strongly, setting the scene beautifully for Penny’s discovery that the Master is manipulating the girl’s memories. However, the plot in the middle was slightly confusing. I think that this was due partially to Penny’s unreliability as a narrator because of the Master’s constant manipulation of her memory. I also think there were some aspects of the story that could have been developed more to fully flesh out the novel. There were some interesting plot twists but nothing that I didn’t figure out ahead of time.
It was hard to relate to Penny as a character since her personality was constantly in flux. Despite that, I did grow to admire her resiliency, her strength, and perseverance. I was definitely rooting for her and the other girls by the end. Cricket was adorable and I liked how the romance aspect stayed in the background most of the time. The flashbacks that showed the history of the Master and Beppe were interesting but there definitely weren’t enough of them for me. I felt like the potential for a truly excellent and well-developed villain was wasted by not exploring the “Why?” behind the Master’s actions more.
Overall, The Midnight Dance was a beautifully written story that I enjoyed. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t gone with the expectation that this story would be more of a psychological thriller in the same vein as The Black Swan. I found the concept of this book incredibly intriguing but I ended up wanting more depth to the characters and the story. The Midnight Dance would be good if you’re looking for a slightly darker mystery with just a hint of romance!
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