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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.
Wow, I thought this was such a beautifully written gothic fantasy.
Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Grace is an organ who has been promoted to prima ballerina of the Near North Ballet. Her performance was sponsored by a mysterious patron, Master La Rosa, who, come to find out, also orchestrated her ascent to prima. But it comes with a price.. she much come to live with him, and dance with him at midnight every Sunday. When she does, she finds the mansion cloaked in mystery and full of otherworldly secrets, and is caught between illusion and reality.
I don’t want to give anything away, but there are two worlds that Grace travels through, and the otherworldly place is dark, haunting, beautiful and scary.
This was a lovely dark fantasy seemingly inspired by Hades and Persephone, Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera. The prose was beautiful and lyrical and the writing has a dark, dreamlike quality that I loved. I was enchanted by the story and characters. I liked Grace’s character development, and loved her relationship with her dear friend Emilia.
I loved the descriptions, and the atmospheric quality of the writing. It made me feel immersed in the book…the cold, the longing, the darkness, the beauty. I loved reading about the world of ballet, but I’ve always been drawn to that world. Alyssa Wees is a beautiful storyteller and I can’t express how much I loved this book.
I haven’t read Alyssa Wees before, but I will be picking up her other books.
Nocturne will be published on February 21, 2023. Preorder Here
Special thanks to Random House and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review
HeatherJanuary 24, 2023 at 11:14 am
I do like a very descriptive book. Lovely review 😍