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.
I saw this cover, read the synopsis, and knew that I definitely wanted to read it. While I haven’t been head over heals for the 12 Dancing Princesses fairytale, this seemed like it would be really good. And I enjoyed it enough to be really intrigued.
I loved this book. I really, truly did. It was so good.
The setting was so strong. I felt like I could taste the salt in the air. Highmoor felt dark and closed off, while also feeling bright and welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed being there. It’s absolutely gorgeous and incredibly easy to picture.
I was surprised on how easy all the sisters were to picture and how easy it was to keep the straight. Going in, I honestly had no hope of figuring out who was who. It’s a lot of sisters to keep track of! And while in the beginning, it was a tad hard to know who was who (again, a lot of names and faces!), I sorted them out really quickly. I feel like every single one of them was well developed and such a full character. I’m kind of floored with how much I connected with all of them!
I didn’t go into this book thinking there would be huge twists. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this book to shock me to the core. BUT IT DID WOW. It has the kinds of twists you don’t know are happening until their over. And then the foreshadowing clicks into place and it is so intricately and masterfully woven. You can see the small hints dropped along the story and everything makes complete sense. It was amazing!
I also loved Annaleigh’s character. She was soft, but fierce in her own way.
The writing was spectacular. It pulls you into the story and spins it around you with an effortless grace. It felt like the heart of the story and I loved it.
I also really enjoyed sea turtles and other sea creatures that made appearances!
I did have a few issues, despite loving this book a ton. I didn’t feel the deep sadness over the deaths. It affects Annaleigh in a huge way, but it’s also sort of offhand. I didn’t feel the connection towards that aspect. Yes, the plot has to progress, so some things have to be put on hold. I just thought that sometimes her feelings didn’t feel proportioned to what had happened.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. It felt rushed and kinda thrown in there. I loved Annaleigh and her love interest together, I just didn’t love how it came about.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. It felt sort of abrupt. I would have liked more of a conclusion, something that made this story about family bonds instead of what it was. Despite that, I still felt like it wrapped up the story well and I felt like the plot was wrapped up. (Maybe a few faint lingering threads for a companion novel which I would totally love!)
Despite my few issues, the things I felt were done well overpower whatever I didn’t like. The amazingness is so prominent that it’s all I want to focus on haha. I also couldn’t stop thinking about the Barbie movie version of the 12 Dancing Princesses. In a good way! This book and that movie work together weirdly well haha.
Thank you for reading!