Nocturne: Review

About the Book:

Title: Nocturne 

Author: Alyssa Wees 

Publisher: Del Ray 

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Pages: 240

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Adult Historical Fiction 


In this haunting, lyrical fantasy set in 1930s Chicago, a talented ballerina finds herself torn between her dreams and her desires when she’s pursued by a secretive patron who may be more than he seems.61167445

Growing up in Chicago’s Little Sicily in the years following the Great War, Grace Dragotta has always wanted to be a ballerina, ever since she first peered through the windows of the Near North Ballet Company. So when Grace is orphaned, she chooses the ballet as her home, imagining herself forever ensconced in a transcendent world of light and beauty so different from her poor, immigrant upbringing.

Years later, with the Great Depression in full swing, Grace has become the company’s new prima ballerina—though achieving her long-held dream is not the triumph she once envisioned. Time and familiarity have tarnished that shining vision, and her new position means the loss of her best friend in the world. Then she attracts the attention of the enigmatic Master La Rosa as her personal patron, and realizes the world is not as small or constricted as she had come to fear.

Who is her mysterious patron, and what does he want from her? As Grace begins to unlock the Master’s secrets, she discovers that there is beauty in darkness as well as light, finds that true friendship cannot be broken by time or distance, and realizes there may be another way entirely to achieve the transcendence she has always sought.




*Thank you to Netgalley and Del Ray for the review copy. All thoughts are my own*

This was my first book by Alyssa Wees. I’ll start out with what I like about it. I absolutely love the gorgeous cover, the atmosphere and the beautiful, descriptive writing. I really like the idea behind the story, it’s kind of a mashup of Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, and Hades and Persephone.

I didn’t like that the beginning of the story was very slow-paced, and a little too descriptive at times. Things don’t really pick up until about halfway through the book either. I felt that it read more like a YA, than an adult story as well.

The main character Grace Dragotta has had a tough past. Her brother is killed on the street by the mafia, her mother dies, and her friend and neighbor that taught her how to play the violin passes away as well. She had always wanted to be a ballerina, and so when she is orphaned, she chooses the ballet as her home.

Years later at the height of the Depression, Grace is chosen as the company’s new prima ballerina, though achieving her lifelong dream is not as triumphant as she one envisioned it. Time and familiarity have tarnished the vision, and it now means the loss of her best friend, that’s like a sister to her. She then attracts the attention of her personal patron, Master La Rosa. She begins to wonder who he is and works on unlocking his secrets. She sees that there’s also beauty and light in the darkness, and that there may be a way to achieve the transcendence she always sought.

I didn’t think there was much to the romance in this book, as we don’t get to know Grace’s love interest as much as I would have liked. There was potential that just wasn’t explored. I would have liked to have known more about his backstory especially. I didn’t really feel any real connection to him.

I felt dissatisfied when I reached the ending of the story, as I really was expecting more from it.

I would still recommend this book to those who are looking for something a little different and unusual.

About the Author:

Alyssa Wees’s debut novel is The Waking Forest. She lives and writes in Chicago. To learn more about Alyssa and her writing, go to her website, and follow @AlyssaWees on Twitter. 17136445._UX200_CR0,33,200,200_

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