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Monday, July 7, 2014

Dancing in Knives by Kate Forsyth

Title:  Dancing on Knives

Author: Kate Forsyth
Publisher:  Published June 2nd 2014 by Vintage (Random House)
ISBN: 9780857983466
Pages:  304 pages
How I Read It: ARC NetGalley ebook
Genre: mystery, adult
My Rating: 2 crowns


A damaged family and their generations of dangerous secrets.

At twenty, Sara is tormented by an inexplicable terror so profound she hasn't left her home in five years. Like the mermaid in the fairytale her Spanish grandmother once told her, Sara imagines she is Dancing on Knives, unable to speak. She feels suffocated by her family, especially her father – the famous artist Augusto Sanchez – whose volcanic passions dominate their lives.

Then one stormy night, her father does not come home. His body is found dangling from a cliff face. Astonishingly, he is still alive, but the mystery of his fall can only be solved by the revelation of long-held family secrets.

At once a suspenseful murder mystery and a lyrical love story, Dancing on Knives is about how family can constrict and liberate us, how art can be both joyous and destructive, and how strength can be found in the unlikeliest places.

“I dreamt I was like the little mermaid. She had her tongue cut out and could not speak. Every time she moved it was like dancing on knives”.
“Yes, I remember that story…it’s such a sad story”.
“No, it’s not...for she can fly in the end and sing again, and she has a chance to win herself an undying soul. Isn’t that happy”.

Forsyth first drafted Dancing on Knives over thirty years ago and it’s been released last month in its fourth revision. Given the author commenced this tale at 16 years of age, it is a sample of the incredible storytelling skill and writing that Forsyth is capable of and developed over the years since this early date.

Dancing on Knives would appear to be a departure from Forsyth’s usual fantasy genre, however, there is no denying the imagery pertained within the words:

But somehow implicit in this fantasy was the belief she could step back through the mirror into her life, and bask there in this new-found appreciation.

The tale of Sara is a sad one and I found the ending to be somewhat predictable and rushed with a complete turn around of so many issues the book had been working through for a vast majority of the story. So yes, Forsyth has written a realistic tale of a very dysfunctional family, however, it wasn't a pleasant read due to its bleakness and constant struggles and woes. If you were after a dark, murder mystery with twisted family dynamics, I’d recommend Dancing on Knives and it certainly highlights what a versatile author Kate Forsyth is.

However, although I found this story to be well written, in my pursuit of reading books for escapism I found it just too depressing. I feel that readers who relate more strongly to the themes included here will hopefully find this to be a worthwhile and more engaging read than I did.

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