Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss – for Blog Tour
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

They thought they had run far enough...

Marina Dukovskaya is poised to make her debut as the Bolshoi's prima ballerina, an Artist of the People hand chosen by Leonid Brezhnev's regime, just as her mother Sveta was years ago. But that was then. Now, Sveta spends her time loudly claiming knowledge of a sinister government secret (that she acquired through "visions," no less). When she disappears, institutionalized by the government, they tell Marina "It's for her own good."

Fearing arrest as Sveta's sympathizers, Marina and her father defect to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. But it seems the worst of old Russia's crooks and con men have followed, and Marina finds herself suddenly alone when her father's entanglement in the burgeoning Russian mob ends in tragedy. Tragedy Marina foresaw. Maybe Sveta's visions weren't all in her head after all.

Either way Marina has a deadly mystery on her hands.

The extent of history that I know associated with Russia and the Soviet Union would include Anastasia, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and now this book. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy had a ton of history in it– people, places, events. I loved the journey from the Soviet Union to Brooklyn, the effect of a new culture and new home on Marina.
This novel took me a while to complete. Nearly 300 pages, it surprised me that it took me so long to read, but in the end, I guess it was because of the addition of Russian words and the thoughts that took a while for Marina to sink in and reveal to the reader. I found myself a little confused along the way, wondering who was good and who was bad, but it all tied up in a thrilling climax and conclusion.

Marina was such a great character. I thought that the emotions that came across in her perspective really shows the skill of Elizabeth Kiem as an author. I feel that I would have had the same feelings in the same situation (which I have had before) when coming to a new place. English is a whole new language for Marina and her constant struggle to understand and speak the language was done very neatly in the book, so I applaud Kiem for that! However, I felt that the whole dance aspect kind of died down into the book and it distanced itself quite far from what it was in the beginning to just before the middle of the book. Nonetheless, I still thought she was a great main character.
Benjamin Frame! I'm glad there was a cute boy thrown in this book. The only problem I had was that he kind of disappeared and reappeared many times, and I felt that his character was a little inconsistent in appearances throughout the plot line. Sure, he was there, but his input seemed a little unnecessary at times for the story. However, he was still such a fabulous contribution to the plot, and I especially love the twist at the end, where it all comes together and creates a heck of a climax. Ben is a huge part of it, and I found myself shocked and gaping at the turn of events.

I also thought that the addition of the whole mafia and spy thriller thing put me off a little bit when reading this book. Sometimes it was total kick-ass action, which I enjoyed. Other times though it would be like, what in heck are they going on about? The supernatural element I also felt was unnecessary in this book. The visions? Completely made me confused and didn't really add much to the plot, even though the visions truly could have made the book much more suspenseful and thrilling if they could have been used consistently.
In the end I thought the novel tied up nicely. There was prospects of what could possibly come next, there was nothing really left hanging, and at least some is up to the reader's imagination.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy and found it to be engrossing and delightfully gripping. Elizabeth Kiem truly is a story-teller– her words bring the past to the present, and create a fantastic clash of cultures, and a plot that thickens with every twist. You will not regret picking this one up!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Meredith Barnes of Soho Press for making me apart of this blog tour and the eGalley for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you liked this, try...

  • What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell ● Goodreads
  • Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley Goodreads


  1. I think Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy sounds like a winner! I love a good story. Thanks for such a great review.

  2. I really thought the visions were unnecessary and all together I found this book very difficult to read. My knowledge of Soviet history is pretty similar to yours and I wonder if more knowledge would have aided me in the reading of this.


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