*ARC provided by Algonquin Publicity in exchange for an honest review*
Publication Date: May 2, 2021
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
About the Author …
A. K. Small was born in Paris, France. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States, where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Trigger Warnings: eating disorder, mentions of suicide, drug use, abortion, adult-minor relationship
When I did “ballet” as a kid we spent the first fifteen minutes of the class looking for and then describing imaginary buckets. Something tells me these characters did not have that same experience at their elite french ballet boarding academy.
Going into Bright Burning Stars I knew exactly two things: 1) I liked the cover. 2) It was about ballerinas, something I figured out from said pretty cover. For some reason I was convinced there was going to be a murder but about 30% of the way through when there had been no “stabby-stabby” or “shooty-shooty” I realised I’d gotten it mixed up with Tiny Pretty Things.
I think not having expectations worked well for me because I ended up loving it!
Throughout this book we follow two best friends, Marine and Katie, who are in their last year at their ballet academy, both of them pushing themselves to the limit. Stress levels are high and their friendship is truly put to the test.
I don’t think this book will be for everyone as, in my opinion, it’s a very character driven story. Sure, lots of stuff happens, but it’s more focused on Marine and Kate’s flaws, struggles, dreams. Marine is struggling with an eating disorder, Kate with her destructive taste in boys and other things that gear towards spoiler territory. We see how their own struggles as well as the pressure of their environment affect their friendship.
I loved all of this though. It pulled at my heartstrings in the best ways and kept me guessing at every turn. Even when I wasn’t liking what a character was doing I was still hoping for the best for them and I would definitely recommend this. Maybe if you’ve just finished Tiny Pretty Things you should check this one out. (I’ve never read the book but I binged the show and would have loved to dive into this straight after).