The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is SO GOOD (eARC Review)

The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

First published May 12, 2022

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Dance Tree is going to rip your heart out, and you’ll enjoy it. I adored Hargrave’s The Mercies, that was a solid 5 star for me, so I was very excited to receive an early copy of The Dance Tree. This tells the story of the dance plague in Strasbourg in 1518, in which hundreds of people danced in what seemed more like a plague, or a trance, than actual enjoyment. What I love about Hargrave’s books is that they’re an emotional punch nicely packed in about 300 pages, so you experience all those emotions, the brutal existence those women lived through, their heartbreak, joy, and so on, but it doesn’t last so long that it starts to drag you down. I actually found myself really looking forward to picking this up and devoured it in a couple of days.

I loved the gorgeous, lyrical writing, so romantic but also brutal at times. The pacing feels so fluid, the story so inevitable.

To me, The Mercies hit the spot in a way that The Dance Tree almost did, I wanted to spend a bit more time with Nethe, who I thought would be a lot more central to the story than she was – yes she was a main character but somehow I expected to see a little bit more of her introspections, motivations and so forth. There are also some small issues I had with the plot which I won’t discuss in detail here so as not to spoil, but it’s not so much that I didn’t like those plot choices as much as that they took me out of the story a couple times.

I am curious to see what people will think of the ending. I will not elaborate on my feelings on it so as not to spoil, but I’ll keep an eye on other people’s reviews.

This was a beautiful, heartbreaking story set in a very interesting time in history which feels both like escaping our reality but also experiencing it in a different way – there are quite a few parallels to the dance plague and how it affected the poorest, the least powerful people in society… it’s a story that really makes you think about it long after it’s over.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7 thoughts on “The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is SO GOOD (eARC Review)

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