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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

A must-read for anyone who loves The Phantom of the Opera

Having been a keen ballerina in my youth, and ever since a regular visitor to the ballet, I was at once attracted to a romance in which the heroine is a dancer. And as soon as I began reading, I found parallels to Gaston Leroux’s timeless classic – the theatre backdrop, the orphaned dancer protégé, the dance mistress, the prima donna, the higher-class love interest and, most compelling of all, the dark villain of the piece, in this case all the more terrifying for the fact he is too real and not remotely phantom-like.

I liked the main characters, Lisette and Evander (great names!), and especially the parts told from Evander’s point of view, which allow us to get inside his mind and see how he feels. Lisette is no push-over, and I respected her for not falling straight at Evander’s feet: when Evander early on declares ‘I am forever your servant’, she merely replies, ‘Forever is a long time, my lord.’

The descriptions of the dancing swept me away – so romantic and transformational; the stage is a means by which Lisette can transcend her somewhat bleak life and live the fairytale. As one character puts it to Evander: ‘You live in a bright fantasy world, filled with grand houses, money and opportunity. These girls have nothing and live in the dirt and poverty of the London back streets.’

I also enjoyed the atmospheric descriptions of Victorian London: ‘There was a fine, misty rain that clung to all the surfaces like a glittering mantle. It coated the street with a shiny slick. It was carried on a cold breeze that would its way through the darkened buildings and the crowded city.’

Most of all, I was intrigued by the vein of darkness running through the book. This is no light, fluffy romance – in this book you encounter devious plotting and heartless abuse and, ultimately, murder. The ending has everything you could want, including a dramatic showdown with Lord De Vale which, for me, ended perfectly.

A wonderful book for those who love the arts world and the age-old tradition of romantic melodrama.

I was offered this book in exchange for a fair review via NetGalley.

Dancing on Air is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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