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Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly - Review

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Watch Her Fall was published on April 1st 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton. I was provided with an electronic copy of the book for review purposes but was not otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I've read a couple of books by Erin Kelly before and there's always a massive twist in them that makes you rethink the whole of the book that has gone before. So I was prepared for that! And it did happen but in no way the way I thought it would. Erin is such a good writer, adeptly weaving mane strands of story together. 

At the beginning we meet Ava Kirilova, principal dancer with the London Russian Ballet. The company is run by her father, Nikolai Kirilov, better known as Nicky. He rules the company with an iron fist - dancers live in dormitories, aren't permitted to have phones, and are moulded from the age of twelve to become exactly the dancers Nicky wants them to be. Ava, as Nicky's daughter, is in a certain place of privilege, but is also held somewhat apart from the other dancers. 

The company is about to stage Swan Lake, with Ava playing the twin roles of Odette and Odile, the white swan and the black swan. They have been rehearsing for months and are a couple of weeks away from their opening night in London. The whole company will then go on tour around the world, while Nicky undergoes hip replacement operations and recuperation, and the theatre gets a full makeover, costing millions. That's the plan, anyway...

At the beginning of the book Ava arrives at the theatre to find that the 'second swan' - the girl who plays Odette while Ava is being Odile - has been fired and a replacement must be found immediately. Nicky asks Ava to help him choose. She will eventually take over the company and must keep up his vision. But she has a little rebellion inside her - she wants to dance some things her own way, and she siphons off the money that Nicky gives her, stashing it away for some future event. She disappoints Nicky when selecting the new second swan and takes it out on the new girl over the next couple of weeks. 

The novel swaps point of view throughout, which leads to the twists, and I don't want to give too many spoilers. But there are life changing injuries, which every dancer dreads. You don't have to know a lot about dancing to understand the book (although I did look up what a fouette is!). This is a cloistered, sticky, competitive world, and I loved it. The settings were brilliant and I wanted the main characters to succeed in life. There's also a lot about immigrants from eastern Europe and the basically slave conditions that they live in. I really liked this aspect of the book too. 

I'm giving it four out of five and can't wait to read something else by Erin!

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