Book Review

Review: Nocturne


Written by: Mallory McCartney

Del Rey


One girl finds herself caught in the battle between death, dreams, and love in this fantasy-infused ballet within the pages of Nocturne.

Nocturne is a fantasy, taking place in 1930s Chicago during the Great Depression, following Grace as she becomes the new Prima Ballerina. It is a lyrical novel, but unfortunately, rather slow.


Nocturne focuses a lot on Grace, who has had a bit of a hard life. In story takes place during the great depression, so that is to be expected.

Personally, I think this novel would be a wonderful opera or ballet. The story is interesting enough and lyrical enough. However, it felt both too short and too long. There were moments in the story that were dragged and took away from the emotional impact the scene initially began with.

I understand the intent of creating those character dynamics, but dragging out the scenes hurts the characterization by undercutting the tension. It a point, the reader wants those scenes to end and for the story to continue.

There also weren’t enough scenes to develop the romance between Grace and Master La Rose (Death). We, as readers, want to feel invested in that romance, and on a lyrical level, it was emotive, but whenever the characters were together, they fell flat.

The characterization wasn’t strong enough to carry the weight of the story.

The Saving Grace

On the bright side, Wees’s storytelling is so lyrical that it makes it easy to envision. Visually, you can see the novel play out. It helped me to imagine this novel being played out as a ballet on a stage being performed. It was beautiful to see it captured that way.

The story may drag, but the atmosphere is there, and the fluidity in the writing. It’s hard to wrap my head around such a juxtaposition, but that is what Wees manages to do here.

In those scenes that are too short, they feel cutoff because the tension is cutting, it comes to life in those scenes and makes the reader want more. The gothic feel and the fantasy shine in those moments. It feels as though you can hear the music in those scenes as you watch the scene unfold. Those scenes, that feeling, make the novel worthwhile.

Final Thoughts

Nocturne is somewhat tiresome to read, but when you look at it and read it as though it is a ballet being performed, it is quite beautiful.


Lyrical Yet Slow | Nocturne Review

One girl finds herself caught in the battle between death, dreams, and love in this fantasy-infused ballet within the pages of Nocturne.

Character Development:
Couldn't Put It Down-ness:
Writing Quality:

Cynthia Ayala-Bujnicki majored in Writing and Publishing from Emerson College. Editor-in-chief of Cyn's Workshop, she loves to read and write while tending to her pepper plants. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband, two kids Dante and Selene and two furbabies Mr. J the Kitten who Thinks He's Batman (yes, that is his full name) and Nyx.