Review: Death’s Dancer (Grace Bloods #1) by Jasmine Silvera

I hope you all enjoyed the chance to read (and hopefully enjoy) my writing, because we’re now back to my regularly scheduled criticism of other more successful writers.

NB- I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review


I like the cover, there’s something eye catching about a dancer mid-leap, and it fits the tone and content of the book quite well

Isela Vogel has the power to attract the favor of the gods for anyone who can pay her fee but struggles to hide the degenerative hip condition that will end her career. Then she’s offered a job that will set her and her family up for life. Though her prospective patron is a formidable necromancer with a heated and infuriating gaze, she can hardly refuse the payday.

The Allegiance of Necromancers is powerful but not omnipotent, and when someone starts murdering his kind, Azrael must enlist a human in order to track down the killer. But why does she have to be so frustratingly stubborn–and intriguing? Azrael can make the dead walk, but he can’t make the very much alive Isela toe any line.

Isela is thrown into a world of supernatural creatures–demons after dark, witches in the shadows, shifters running wild in city parks–where the grace of gods can truly infuse the blood of the most mortal-seeming dancer. As the danger increases with each thrilling discovery, trusting Azrael may be the only way to survive a conspiracy to destroy the fragile peace of a broken world.

But the greatest threat is their growing attraction. Dancers and necromancers don’t mix for a reason–it turns out there are fates worse than death.

Journey to the magical streets of Prague in an alternate present-day supernatural thriller for lovers of romantic urban fantasy.

I enjoyed this book, and would love to check out book two (and any other books by this author), but there were a few things about this book that seemed a little unpolished. Primarily, I feel like not enough was learnt about Azrael. His dialogue seemed a bit canned, and even his backstory was standard fare for paranormal romance/urban fantasy. This book reminded me very much of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, so perhaps Azrael only seems two-dimensional when compared to a detailed character like Raphael. Azrael’s sketched in character and backstory made him come off a little bland, which made the romance built between him and Isela seem, though I still enjoyed reading about their interactions.

I thought it also strained credulity a bit for Isela to have so little knowledge of her own family, and her relationship with Gregor changed very quickly, which I found somewhat confusing. I also think the various types of supernatural creatures should have been introduced or at least hinted at earlier, likewise for the antagonist. Without this foreshadowing, the conclusion seems less satisfying than it should have been.

My last (minor) issue with the book is the world-building. Though it was set in a dystopian Prague, the setting for the most part was left up to the reader’s imagination. I believe more subtly woven in threads of both real and fantasy touches would have brought the world to life, and allowed opportunities for subtle hints at the plot and supernatural inhabitants of the world.

Like I said, though, I did enjoy this book. Jasmine Silvera’s writing is engaging and interesting, and the world of the Grace Bloods has a lot of promise. There were several seeds planted that I can’t wait to see come to conclusion, with plenty of tension sure to lead to an action-packed sequel.

The idea of godsdancers is (as far as I’ve read) unique, and the execution did not disappoint. The Allegiance of necromancers (and their history with witches and each other) is a mystery I hope further books in the series will explore further.

Isela’s determination and strong character were a joy to read, and I enjoyed the little realistic touches (changing into practical clothes for dancing, the emphasis on stretching to retain flexibility, and the work that goes into having wavy or curly hair) that made her a well-rounded individual, rather than a Strong Female ProtagonistTM. Her relationship with the Academy’s director and her dancer friends was fun to read, and I hope to see these characters explored in more depth in future books. Likewise her family, both blood and by marriage.

Azrael’s Aegis (most notably Lyssipe) are an interesting way to explore his past and character, and I enjoyed the way Isela and he interacted with the staff at his castle also. His necromancy was left deliberately vague, and I hope in future books both the limits and source of his power are explored further.

This book would be well suited to fans of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels or Hidden Legacy series, or Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Death’s Dancer has a few minor hurdles, but overall is a solid start to a promising urban fantasy series.


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