In this retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” a princess and a spy must find a way to work together if they are to prevent their kingdoms from falling into war…
Lord Kyril Seagrave is handsome, popular and growing bored with his shallow existence at court. In search of adventure, he signs on for a clandestine mission into the heart of the Caelani Empire, a largely unknown land to the east which may also be the greatest threat to Andar’s future.
Armed only with his natural charm and a set of ill-matched companions, Kyril enters Caelan under the guise of a raffish bodyguard and soon realizes he is far beyond his depth. Each of his companions seems to have their own hidden agenda, leaving Kyril to navigate the complexities of an unfamiliar court alone.
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Princess Ilani cannot remember a time when she was not invisible. Her twelve sisters dance for the Caelani court, while she remains hidden from view. But hidden does not mean blind, and Ilani knows too many secrets to be ignored forever. When it is time for her father to name an heir, all of those secrets will come back to haunt her, along with a devilishly charming foreigner who seems to know far more than he should.
Ilani finds herself fighting not only for the future of her land, but for her very life and the lives of her sisters. Even if she survives her father’s search for an heir, her secrets may not, and Caelan itself may never be the same.–from Goodreads
Where do I even begin? The third addition to Kenley Davidson’s Andari Chronicles was an adventure in and of itself. (Side note: If you’ve read Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, then this book is going to feel very familiar.)
In Pirouette, I finally got the world-building I was looking for. Caelan is a magical, middle-eastern type country straight from a Scheherazade tale, full of spicy princesses and sultry gardens. I liked the setting a lot, and was intrigued to see how the plot would turn out.
A few rules for reading this book:
Rule #1. Things are never as they seem.
Rule #2. If you’re worried things are about to get worse, then you can stop worrying. They do get worse. A lot worse.
Seriously, the plot was full of all sorts of twists and turns that left me mystified, relieved, and worried by turns. Not necessarily in that order. And the author again left me applauding her audacious use of unfamiliar vocabulary words.
The characters were, of course, magnificent. I’ve come to expect nothing less than well-rounded, complex characters from Kenley Davidson, and she has not disappointed me. There may have been a touch of insta-love (one-sided) from a character in this story, but it fits with his/her character, so I’ll let it go. 😉 We also saw the return of a much-despised villain [SPOILER: Who escaped in the end. Again. Seriously, can’t we just lock him up in a dungeon already?!? I bet we’ll be seeing him in the next book–which is rumored to be coming out soon! END SPOILER]
One thing I have yet to mention about Davidson’s style of writing is the way she writes point-of-view. Her books usually feature 2-3 main characters, and we get turns with each to see from their point-of-view. Sometimes we even see the same scene again, but from a different character’s pov. Sometimes she throws in an extra scene written from someone other than the main character’s pov to add a twist or further muddy the shark-infested waters. It’s very unique, given that a lot of YA books are written these days in first-person, or deep pov from only one character.
However, there is a few caveats. Davidson has an unfortunate tendency to sprinkle profanity liberally throughout her books, and this one was no exception. She added in some crude, obscene curses as well, that would have been better left unsaid.(I’m really tired of profanity in books-any books. Writers, you have a thesaurus. Use it. And NOT in an obscene or offensive way! There are lots of better ways to express emotion than turning to crude language– and most will enhance your writing talent and grow your audience.) A star deducted for language concerns. There was a good bit of violence as well [SPOILER: Including magic-induced deaths, which can be disturbing. About the same level as what I noticed in Entwined by Heather Dixon. END SPOILER].
Overall, Pirouette was a fantastic story, marred only by the unfortunate choice to include obscenities. A well-developed culture, complex characters, and a touch of magic make this story worth reading. (With a Sharpie handy.)
Rating: 4 stars
Recommended: 15 and up (mostly due to language concerns and violent/disturbing deaths)
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Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):
Language: 8/10 (profanity used fairly regularly. addition of crude, obscene phrases)
Violence: 6/10 (violent deaths, a bit gruesome. characters incur serious wounds. murder.)
Sexual Content: 0.5/10 (barely any–only thing that comes to mind was a man thinking he wants to kiss a woman)
*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*
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