Review: Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore // Or, Get Swept in a Cursed Dance

★★★☆ | Magical story in the middle of harsh reality

“I kept those pieces as a reminder. I would find a way to make sure we never had to destroy something of ourselves just to stop other people from taking it.”

dark and deepest red

Title: Dark and Deepest Red

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: June 9th 2020

Pages: 309

Genres:  Magical Realism | Fantasy | LGBT


goodreads-add-e1547065951898🌙 dual timeline
🌙 Red Shoes retelling
🌙 Romani & Latina rep
🌙 embracing your herietage

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.


I love dual timelines and having the dual timeline between a small town in the USA and a 1518 Strasbourg was perfect!

And they were perfectly interlaced. I loved the little details and the subtle pararells between the POVs. 

“There was more to what happened in Strasbourg than some passing story in his family’s history.

And whatever it was, it was reaching across five centuries to grab hold of him.”

The stories were perfectly blended with each other and the original myth of Strasbourg’s dance plague and Andersen’s The Red Shoes.

Personally, I liked the Strasbourg storyline a bit more and I got attached to Lala in a way I wasn’t attached to Emil and Rosella but that may be because she was the only one from 1518 with a POV while Emil and Rosella ‘shared’ the present. 

Lala was such a strong character though and I loved being in her mind and seeing the reasons behind her actions. And I shiped her and Alifair way more than Emil and Rosella *shrug*. 

The pace was slower than I am used to but strangely it didn’t bother me. It felt like getting the time to fully experience the story rather than dragging so I enjoyed it for once with no rush. 

Also, I loved the writing style so much I felt no need to speed through it. McLemore truly has magical writing style.

“We will make ourselves a town that seems crafted so much of magic it will sound as a dream to any who speak of it.”


  • Have you read Dark and Deepest Red or other books by Anna-Marie McLemore?
  • What magical books have you read recently?


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8 thoughts on “Review: Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore // Or, Get Swept in a Cursed Dance

  1. I have read and loved all of McLemore’s books, but this one didn’t quite click like the others did for me. I think part of it is, as you’ve noted, the split narration and Emil and Rosella not being quite as ‘close’ to the reader as Lala… But I think it is very cool that McLemore is writing queer historical YA fiction 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was my first McLemore so I can’t compare but if they’re all more like Lala’s part then I will love them 🙂 Yes, that’s amazing! I love hearing that we existed in history and even got happy endings ❤


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