Books on Tape. Feb. 2023. 12:03 hrs. ISBN 9780593677193. $95. FANTASY
Wees’s (The Waking Forest) adult debut follows the trials of Grace Dragotta, a young woman making a life for herself as a ballerina in Depression-era Chicago who has endured much death in her short life. Orphaned and homeless, Grace works her way into the Near North Ballet Company, where, at the request of Master LaRosa, the company’s mysterious benefactor, she becomes a prima ballerina. However, this coveted position comes with a price, as Grace must reside permanently in LaRosa’s creepy house, wear the clothes he provides, and waltz with him every Sunday at midnight. Though Grace tries to escape, she is continually drawn back to this secret world. Wees’s lyrical prose, enchantingly narrated by Zura Johnson, is enhanced in audio, as Johnson brings out the dreamlike atmosphere of Master LaRosa’s otherworldly kingdom.
VERDICT A lush and romantic story made all the more compelling by Wees’s evocative prose and Johnson’s graceful narration. Recommended for fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or Constance Sayers’s The Ladies of the Secret Circus.
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