Title: Watch Her Fall
Author: Erin Kelly
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date of Publication: 1st April 2020
Format read: ebook
Number of pages: 400
Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.
Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.
But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall …
Erin Kelly proves drama and ballet go well together. I was intrigued by the premise but nothing had prepared me for the degree of claustrophobia and uneasiness that grabbed me while I was reading Watch Her Fall…
Ava is a prima ballerina. To be honest, I have always looked at ballet with wary eyes. The discipline can be so harsh… But so is the world of the dance. There is something toxic in the air and the author captured it with skill. It was brilliant to be the fly on the wall and see the behind-the-scenes and real lives of those dedicating their lives to the art, but it was also horrifying. The pain, physical and mental, penetrates the pages and the reader’s mind. You get to know each character through their roles in the company, and the sense that everything can disappear in the blink of an eye can be felt at all times. The grandiose artist is here, the threatened ballerina too, along with the seconds, the thirds… and the criticisms and competition. The closer to the top, the longer and harder the fall. I think Erin Kelly makes a wonderful example of this here! Despite my mind block about ballet, I was able to understand Ava’s feelings and connect to her in a way I would not have thought possible.
I did not know much about Swan Lake so it was a great to learn about it through Ava and through the story. Again, toxicity much??? I’ve always felt there was something dangerous about this particular piece, and the way the author twists it, over and over, to get every drop of the poison it contains, makes for a captivating read.
I thought I would spend a few hours reading about ballet going wrong, but I was far from the truth. We later meet more characters, whose POVs jumps from one to the other to tell a chilling story of the fall… Not just the one fall you were expecting. Juliet, Roman, Katya, they all have a story to tell and the more I read, the strongest was the chill I felt.
Each protagonist is given enough layers to feel multi-dimensional and add something to the plot. To me, they were like thorns in a foot. Each adding to the pain, to the blood, to the darkness. The tension oozes from the company’s home, but also from the street, from what should be a safe place. I truly admire how Erin Kelly transports the reader from one place and one character to the other without ever letting go of the main thread of plot.
Watch Her Fall is intense and dramatic, taking its power from Swan Lake and creating a tsunami of emotions and revealing hard truths and real faces, as if the swans’ masks were peeled off by Erin Kelly’s writing.
Publication day is coming, you can pre-order your copy here
I would like to thank Kate for inviting me to be part of this book tour and for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!