This is a gripping new novel from one of the best thriller writers, Erin Kelly. It takes place in the world of classical ballet, which I thought was an unusual yet interesting setting. I’ve never been to a ballet show and know little about the art, so found the book informative in addition to being a brilliant page-turner.
The main character is Ava Kirilova, who is about to star in Swan Lake. She’s the principal ballerina in the company owned by her father, the legendary Nicky. At the school in London, he drives the dancers very hard to get the best performances from them, but somehow Ava can never please him. At the age of thirty, she is close to retirement and should inherit the company, but she worries that the other dancers are after her role and that the coaches, her father’s long-time friends, are conspiring with him to take her inheritance away. I can’t say any more about the plot or it will spoil the story for you, but there are lots of twists. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen. I was impressed by the level of detail in the plot and the descriptions of life as a ballet dancer. There are some serious themes in the book, such as grief, ambition, immigration and inequality. I liked how they were part of the story but didn’t slow down the narrative.
I couldn’t help noticing an odd detail (at least in my advance copy, which is subject to changes before publication), in that a British character mentions Band-Aids when she would more realistically have said ‘plasters’.
Thank you to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 1st April.