It is fair to say that there seems to have been a resurgence in interest with regard to books and ballet. Although there has been a long term interest with picture books we went through quite a long period where middle grade and YA titles were definitely out of fashion. Over the last few years we have seen a change, but the books tend to have more of an edge to them and ballet is just part of the plot structure. This delightful series mixes ballet and spying and is perfectly aimed at its middle grade audience.
This is the second book in the series, the first being “Death en Pointe” and it follows the heroine Milly during her second year at Swan House Ballet School, which is also a school for spies. In this book we see the re-appearance of a famous villain who calls himself ‘The Mouse King’, after the character in the Nutcracker Suite. He has been in hiding for several years, but now seems determined to have his revenge on the school and also on Milly’s mother (who is a spy as well as a world famous Prima Ballerina). We also see the appearance of another famous dancer who takes up the role of Head of Ballet; Max Deverall is a friend of Milly’s mother, but she wonders if they are too close and why do Max and his daughter Leonora seem so perfect? Importantly can Milly and her friends solve the mystery surrounding the Mouse King and save the school from being closed?
Once again we have a wonderful story full of adventure and mystery, where both the adults and the young people have to work together to get results. In the first book Molly had rescued her mother after nearly a year in captivity, so it is understandable that she is somewhat protective of their relationship. However, when Max appears on the scene Molly is definitely envious of his relationship and her jealousy seems to cloud her judgement. But what if he is linked to the Mouse King and Molly is the only one that can see through his charming ways? The author has given us a bit of a conundrum that takes a lot of unraveling and we have to wait until the end of the book to find out the truth of the matter. One of the major strengths of these stories is the relationships between the school friends, so it is a shock to Molly when they do not automatically support her view of the situation. Thankfully we are able to work through the various elements of the plot and reach a conclusion. The author has however left some ‘doors’ slightly open, so that we have the lead into the next title in the series. I am sure that there are many fans who can’t wait for the next exciting installment, I know I am one of them.
Helen Lipscombe is a graduate of the Bath Spa course on ‘Creative Writing for Young people’ and this is the second title in her series. She grew up in Wales and says that she has been writing since she was a small child. She trained as a graphic designer at the Exeter College of Art and Design and has worked in Singapore, the Caribbean and London. Helen now lives in the Cotswolds with her family and is busily writing her magical stories and researching as much about ballet as she can.