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Dance with Me – 4 Star Book Review

Welcome to one of the November 11th stops on the review blog tour for Dance with Me by Judith Crow, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews, excerpts, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.

About the Book

Dance with Me
by Judith Crow

Published 22 October 2020
by Crowvus

Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 712
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

Don’t tell anyone, but Kelli spends all her free time listening to folk music. Ok, it’s not what you’d expect from a popular fifteen-year-old, but that’s why she doesn’t want the whole world to know.

When Kelli follows the mysterious Tam Lane, she finds herself in a place where folk songs come to life. As she comes to terms with the world, she makes friends, uses her privilege to help others, and even falls in love.

But Kelli has forgotten the fates which await so many characters in the songs, and she soon finds herself surrounded by heartbreak. Determined to protect the people she has left, can Kelli change a fate which has been sung for centuries?

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Excerpt

They left the inn as the church clock began to chime midday and completed their journey in relative silence. As they neared Arlen Manor, Kelli began to feel a strange sensation of being watched, as though a hundred pairs of eyes were following her wherever she went. Looking carefully, she saw there were sculpted birds in many of the trees: great, black, hideous creatures with round eyes which stared unseeingly and followed her as she passed them by.
“They are crows,” William explained. “Centuries ago, before it was Arlen, the castle which stood here was called Corbie. That’s just another word for crow. According to family legend, when a disaster is about to befall the men of the family, the crows of Corbie Castle can be heard talking to one another.”

Kelli felt a shiver stalk down her spine, and she was grateful when they left the woods and moved up the long driveway to the house, which was a picture of gothic splendour in the late afternoon light. She immediately had the feeling that this was the place she had been meant to find, although she could not explain where the idea came from. Climbing down from the trap, Kelli followed William to the door, and stood behind him as he hammered his fist against it.

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My Review

My Rating: 4 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy of Dance With Me from the author via Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title. Thank you to both Judith Crow and Goddess Fish Promotions for the opportunity! This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

I signed up to review this title when the blog tour was booking because the premise intrigued me. A modern teenager from a part of the world that has outgrown folk songs (they’re no longer cool,) but it’s that love for folk music and the introduction of magic that will take her on a grand adventure. I live in a Canadian province where folk music is still very important, even the city kids sing and play it, but I didn’t grow up here and it’s something I really love about my new home. I just had to know what a book with magic and folk music and a teen lead would be like!

Now, I must admit, the title doesn’t lay down the right expectations for me. Every time I checked my blog scheduled to see what I needed to be reading and saw “Dance with Me” I had to look it up again and find out why I had volunteered for this because it sounded like the title of a capital-R Romance, which I never would have signed up to read. And then of course every time I got through that first paragraph of the synopsis and said “Oh yeah! The folk music book, can’t wait!” In retrospect the title makes sense, but before reading the book the association didn’t stick.

I didn’t expect literal time travel based on the synopsis, but I’m certainly not mad about it! I do commend the author for not romanticizing how women were viewed and treated in the Middle Ages. Kelli is suitably unnerved by this change in her social status, but thanks to her knowledge of folk music and the stories they tell about times gone by, she has a better idea than most teens from her time would about how to behave and adapts accordingly.

Kelli is so well written. I loved being in her head, feeling all her emotions and experiencing this dizzying change of worlds with her. Everything she feels rings true, and every decision she makes seems reasonable for a 15-year-old girl with a modern education. Fellow adult readers, of course, keep in mind that she is only 15. I didn’t say all her decisions were the best. I said they make sense for a 15-year-old.

One critique I must give is the repeated focus on weight, physical appearance, and controlling one’s diet in order to look a certain way. While it’s understandable and even expected that a teenage girl from our modern world would be concerned with such things, this is brought up far too much, and it’s not all just because we’re reading a teenager’s POV. Some of it seems much more like comments from the narrator or even the author, not the character herself. This is neither presented as a problem that is acknowledged and challenged (ie. giving the character an obstacle to overcome in the form of an eating or image disorder) nor is it balanced in any way with positive mentions of weight and eating habits that don’t fit a restrictive and skinny ideal. I fear it could add fuel to the fire for any teens and young adults reading this who struggle with such things, and beyond that, it’s a tired trope to pick on heavier women.

I did absolutely adore how expertly the folk lyrics were woven into the narrative in this book, and I even found myself singing the songs as I read. It really is such an interesting idea to place a character in the time and place that those songs came from, and I think it was well executed.

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About the Author

Judith was born in Orkney, grew up in Lincolnshire and now lives in the far north of Scotland. Her writing is inspired by the experiences of her life so far and she loves picking up on quirks and immortalising them in fiction.

Judith’s new book, Dance With Me, combines her love of folk music and creative writing, and finds her main character in a world where folk songs come to life. Her debut book, The Backwater, was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2019.

When she isn’t writing, Judith is a primary school teacher who enjoys crafting and music, as well as being a generally doting spaniel owner.

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Giveaway Alert!

One lucky follower of the tourwill walk away with a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice!

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Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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