Book: The Ballerinas
Author: Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Read if you like: murder mysteries, dance, a slow burn thriller
Release date: December 7, 2021 St. Martin’s Press
Trigger Warnings: older men having sex with much younger women but they are over the age of consent, death of a parent, cancer, taping sex without consent, revenge p0rn, abortion, miscarriage, IVF.
Well this one was not what I was expecting. The prologue tells us one of the ballerinas is a murderer. Then we meet the three girls: Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux. We flash back and forth throughout the book to when they are growing up in the Paris Ballet Academy, to now where 2 are dancers and 1 is a choreographer. And one of them is about to commit murder but we don’t know which one or why.
Hook 2/2: I think this hooked me in more easily than it might other people because it was all about ballet. I have been flitting about my house for days. Spinning, jumping and hovering my arms in the perfect but painful now (because I haven’t done it in ages) second position. Trying to turn my hips and feet out to first position when they no longer wish to do so. I was a ballerina from the age of 3 to 18 and I miss it all the time. This book was so nostalgic for me that it sucked me in very quickly.
Plot 3/3: The twist in this one surprised me. I was not ready for where this book went. I was thoroughly enjoying the journey of the three girls growing up. All the trials and tribulations of being a teenager added to the competitive nature of being a ballerina. And later there was discussion about why a lot of ballerina’s choose not to have children. And how often they have to explain their choice of putting their career first. Ballerinas only last until 35, maybe 40 if they are lucky. Their prime dancing years are also their prime fertility years and many of them do not want to take a year off to have a baby. A lot of them will have kids later, in their 30’s but even then many of them won’t or will struggle to become pregnant. And people continuously asking these women, when are they going to have kids, is beyond frustrating.
Writing 2/3: I really enjoyed the plot and for the most part, the writing. There were a few slow parts in the middle where I think things could have been changed. But overall I found it really enjoyable. I also think that this book is very detailed with the ballet scenes. I personally really liked that because I knew what it all meant. But I wonder if that might confuse people who don’t know what grand battement, arabesque, and first position, etc., means. I’d be interested to see other reviews of this book from people who were never dancers.
Characters 1/2: None of the characters are really likeable. There is one secondary mother figure for Delphine that is sweet. But all the girls are quite selfish and very much focused on their own lives. Especially in the present, they all have problems, and they tell each other the problems, but then none of them seem to care about helping their friends. They redeem themselves in the end but it’s a bit painful to watch.
Overall I really enjoyed this one. I did not see the murder or the murderer coming at all, and the other twist was also very unexpected. I would definitely recommend this one to dancers but then also anyone that enjoys a mild thriller.