Review: Nocturne by Alyssa Wees

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Format: E-Book
  • Length: 240 pages
  • How I Discovered This Book: Browsing through NetGalley
  • How I Acquired This Book: Many Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for the Advanced Reader Copy via NetGalley
  • Date: Published: February 21, 2023
  • Date Started: January 24, 2023
  • Date Finished: February 20, 2023

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for the Advanced Reader Copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In this haunting, lyrical fantasy set in 1930s Chicago, a talented ballerina finds herself torn between her dreams and her desires when she’s pursued by a secretive patron who may be more than he seems.

Growing up in Chicago’s Little Sicily in the years following the Great War, Grace Dragotta has always wanted to be a ballerina, ever since she first peered through the windows of the Near North Ballet Company. So when Grace is orphaned, she chooses the ballet as her home, imagining herself forever ensconced in a transcendent world of light and beauty so different from her poor, immigrant upbringing.

Years later, with the Great Depression in full swing, Grace has become the company’s new prima ballerina—though achieving her long-held dream is not the triumph she once envisioned. Time and familiarity have tarnished that shining vision, and her new position means the loss of her best friend in the world. Then she attracts the attention of the enigmatic Master La Rosa as her personal patron, and realizes the world is not as small or constricted as she had come to fear.

Who is her mysterious patron, and what does he want from her? As Grace begins to unlock the Master’s secrets, she discovers that there is beauty in darkness as well as light, finds that true friendship cannot be broken by time or distance, and realizes there may be another way entirely to achieve the transcendence she has always sought.

Book Synopsis – NetGalley

Wow, first of all, I just want share that the cover is simply breathtaking with nice little Easter eggs from the story illustrated within it. Now, onto the story! The lyrical prose is so eloquently written and I know that may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I thoroughly enjoyed it as it gave the story a breath of descriptive, fresh air. It transports the reader’s senses (all 5 of them) along with the reader throughout the book. This gives the story and its characters atmospheric texture.

The first half of the book lays the foundation of the plot with the real-world side of things then in the second half, the reader is transported into the magical. I can greatly appreciate the author’s background in ballet (as I have none.) I love myths and fantasy and stories of the seemingly ordinary become extraordinary and finding their strength within. This story fit the bill for that especially with a female lead character. I would highly recommend for fantasy / mythology lovers, as well as, those with backgrounds in dance and performance arts that love a little plot twist and magic mixed in. The romance in the book is very mild and suitable for younger readers.

I loved the strong female connection between Grace and Emilia and how the lean into each other during difficult and joyous times. Remember, sometimes family is the people you choose! I also love the themes of how darkness can be beautiful and feel like home as well as light and how the duality can exist in all of us.

Overall, this book was beautifully written and I enjoyed the premise and the author did a wonderful job of portraying the mythic themes of love, loss, friendship, dance, music and finding one’s true strength within.

Below is a hauntingly beautiful playlist that was compiled by Random House Books on Spotify. Hopefully, this can give you some melodic enhancement as you read! Enjoy!

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