Review of ‘The music and the mirror’ by Lola Keeley.

“Jump before you are pushed. In love, war and pas de deux”

I feel that my words won’t be enough to do justice to this book properly. What a fantastic read and even more so considering that this is a debut novel.

This is the story of Anna, a newbie in a successful dance company, and Victoria, former prima ballerina and its current artistic director. It gives us an insight of the ballet world with its high competition, the physical demands, the threatening of injury looming all the time, the jealousy and egocentric behaviours. Written from the point of view of both main characters, the change of pov flows naturally. Everything is so realistically described that you’d expect a dancer to leap out of the book at any time. Thanks to Ms. Keeley’s talent, she depicts ballet without sounding technical, boring or pedantic.

Victoria is the epitome of the British stiff upper lip, ice queen of ballet, in such control of herself that the reader feels her tension like a string about to snap any time. Her sarcastic comments, her strong discipline, even her wardrobe – always dressed in black – gives her an air of inaccessibility. Anna, on the other hand, is much younger, very eager to please, unaware of her incredible talent and friendly to the point of annoying, bringing a breath of fresh air to the dance company. She is almost the complete opposite of Victoria. And boy how opposites attract.

There’s a delicious slow thawing of the ice queen, step by step, jump by jump. Victoria’s sarcastic renaming of Anna as Annya and gradually accepting Anna in all her honest-to-god self, is a beautiful example of how their relationship evolves. Slowly they copy certain treats of each other, hinting the reader how they are falling in love even before they realise themselves. Their relationship is a huge dancing foreplay, Anna and Victoria’s chemistry is off the charts. Their scene in the wardrobe room is in my opinion, one of the hottest ever mastered in lesfic. Just for this brief but incredibly sexy scene this book is worth a read.

Overall, a fantastic debut novel. Highly recommended even if you are not interested in ballet. This book goes straight to my 2018 favourite books. 5+ stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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