In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
This is an ARC my sister won at Book Con 2019. I borrowed it from her.
I didn’t know it was a re-telling of the Brother Grimm’s “The Twelves Dancing Princesses” (a.k.a. “The Worn-out Dancing Shoes and “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”) I never heard of that story. So I can’t compare the two.
I do know I liked this version very much. It had a great atmosphere. I love the sea theme. The cover artwork is just beautiful. I really liked the world building and they way their different devotions to different gods and goddesses were explained.
The supernatural murder mystery was intriguing and kept me wanting to turn the page. The pacing does slow down a bit in the middle, but I still wanted to know the outcome. I had several suspects on my list because a few people come across as untrustworthy and I would change my mind as to who really was the villain.
I enjoyed how the book built up to the ending. I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t as Annaleigh searches for the truth.
I am happy to say that the love triangle was very minimal. It focused more on the sisters, the mystery, and the enchantments.
Also, I am glad that this is a standalone, but if it were to become a series I would like to see a story from one of the other cities that follow a different god or goddess.
Besides the slow pace in the middle I do have one other reason for not giving it a perfect score, but it’s a spoiler. Basically I am a little confused.
We find out that Morella’s bargain with Viscardi was made after Ava, Octavia and Elizabeth were killed. And Morella killed Euclide herself because she was onto her lies. So that means only the other 8 were being tricked by Kosamaras (The Harbinger of Madness and Nightmares), and only Rosalie and Ligeia were killed as payment to Viscardi. So, that means that Ava, Octavia and Elizabeth really were just unfortunate deaths that had nothing to do with Morella’s bargain. I understand Ava’s death because she had an illness, and Octavia was clumsy and fell off a ladder. Given the wardrobe descriptions I can see how that was easily achieved. What leaves me confused is that Elizabeth was seeing things. Was she truly just mad and not being manipulated by Kosamaras?
I wish there was just some more confirmation somewhere at the end that this was the case.
4 out of 5 Fairy Shoes.