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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
In The Dance Between by Christopher Katalinas, Sevi's life is limited to the shadowy tunnels, where he lives with his closest companion, Lily, and forages for food while occasionally being threatened by a grumpy firedrake. When a flying ship shows up, they are compelled to help a human captive escape through the tunnels, giving their lives a new meaning. When the human returns with an army to retake the castle from the Fablings, Fae-like creatures, their acts of kindness force the pair to part ways. Sevi is taken in by humans and cannot determine if this is the moment to reconcile his former and current identities, leave the tunnels, and connect with the outside world. He also doesn't know what will happen to Lily.
I honestly went into The Dance Between almost blindly, looking for a unique new story in a fantasy genre that often feels recycled. Christopher Katalinas stands out from the crowded pack with a fresh storyline that is very different from anything else I've read. The author created an immersive and imaginative world, building suspense and engagement through action, developing characters, revealing mysteries, and evoking powerful emotions in the reader. Sevi and Lily have genuine emotional depth, and Katalinas harnesses this in prose that is appropriate for their natural ages. "He was mad—madder than mad. He was positively seeing red. But in all his anger, all his pain, he could not mistake one thing: he wanted, needed, a reason not to hate her." The world is spectacular and rich, where supernatural elements and both human and magical beings are featured, like a figure in wooden armor with twisting branches, fiery swords, and eerie eyes. Overall, this is brilliant work, and I look forward to following the author and seeing what he comes up with next. Very highly recommended.