A Dance with Magic by Nancy O'Toole review

A Dance with Magic by Nancy O’Toole

Jen reviews A Dance with Magic, the second book in Nancy O’Toole‘s fantasy fairytale retellings series, The Twin Kingdoms.

Thank you to Nancy O’Toole for the ARC!

About the Book
Series: The Twin Kingdoms #2Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings
Date of Publishing: October 6, 2021Trigger Warnings: death, mentions of emotional abuse
Page count: 136Publisher: self-published
Book Blurb

The chance for freedom

Rebecca has lived a life of restrictions. Once a scared princess, ruthlessly controlled by her older brother, she now finds herself inheriting a kingdom that never expected to have a queen. Facing the possibility of engagement to a man she cannot stand, Rebecca takes her first chance of freedom: an enchanted masquerade located beneath a trap door.

The loyal soldier

Zahir has lived a life of loss. A peerless swordsman and trained fighter, he once fought for his country. Now he only raises his blade in defense of one: his queen and dearest friend, Rebecca. But secretly, his feelings expand beyond friendship. It will take all of Zahir’s skill to protect Rebecca from the true purpose of the masquerade, a force more sinister and older than either of them expect.

Or may be able to survive.

Quote of the Book
Quote Background

“My lady, I will not stop you from leaving if that is what you truly desire. But you should at least allow yourself a single dance if just to experience a few more moments of our Aria’s beautiful music.”

I could not help it. I nodded, drawn in by the Master’s words. His grip tightened on my hand, and that was the only warning I got before being swooped out onto the dance floor. Before I knew it, I was being passed from one laughing partner to another. And before long, the stillness on my face melted away, and a pearl of laughter bubbled to my lips.

Song of the Book

Carnival of Rust by Poets of the Fall

It’s probably pretty obvious that this song is a favourite here at the blog, we have picked several times between us. But there was something about The Master, that made me think of this song – maybe more the video and tone than the actual lyrics, and I couldn’t get it out of my head while reading, so I am running with it.


The second book in this series of retellings, A Dance with Magic by Nancy O’Toole brings us to Rebecca Kelvin’s story with a spin on The Twelve Dancing Princess’s. This is one tale I am not too familiar with so I was looking forward to reading it without any of the prior biases attached that I had with The Rose and The Claw.

I really enjoyed A Dance with Magic; Rebecca is such a great character. She has this core of quiet strength about her that hides a little bit of the uncertainties that come about from her upbringing – years being under the thumb of The Butcher, and being thrown into rule in a heavily structured male-dominated country where women rarely wield this kind of power. She was a highlight for me in this tale.

I also enjoyed Zahir and Prince Viktor a lot and they had some fun interactions together.

I love how each novella is bringing a new element of lore to the world. In the first, we learn about the countries, how the magic works, etc, and how it can accumulate. In this volume of the series, we build on that, expanding our knowledge, making this world even more intriguing with each piece we learn. You could probably still read them independently, but I think you would miss out on the nuances and the subtle build to the overall arc that we can see starting to appear.

I won’t go into too many details of the story. A Dance with Magic is a novella, so it’s short and to the point. I would dearly love these to be longer because I am loving these tales and their creepy atmosphere a lot, and my only complaint at this point would be for more.

One of the things that has been fun in each book is seeing who might be the next stories’s characters and I am really hoping to see Viktor’s story at some point.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this series continues to play out.

Our Judgement
They Shall Be Remembered - 4.5 Crowns