Janna Ruth: Im Bann der zertanzten Schuhe

As part of the Fairy Tale Summer/Märchensommer you get my review for Im Bann der zertanzten Schuhe (Under the Spell of the worn-out Dancing Shoes) by Janna Ruth.

What is it about?

5 of 5 stars

Even after two years  the war still has its hold on Jonas and nightmares and visions are his constant companions. As he one day wanders through a new town he reaches the DeModie and stumbling out of it is the cheerful Sophie who unexpectedly enchants him with her liveliness. Shortly after he learns that the job he’s applying for is from her father who wants to hire him to know what his daughter is doing every night. As Jonas soon finds out is the former ballerina off to dance with her prince, Luca, in the DeModie, an enchanted realm right within the nightlife.

The worn-out dancing Shoes with less princesses, but even more magical by the Märchenspinnerei.

The reading experience

For this one I as well wrote down some thoughts in the Reading Group on Facebook (Magical Book Reading) and also kept track of them on Goodreads, so most things might sound familiar.

The story is told in turns from Jonas’ and Sophie’s perspectives, but not in first person. The chapters are much longer than the ones from the other Märchenspinnerei books and it’s a nice change. Every chapter title uses a phrase and silhouette from ballet, as it is an integral part of Sophie’s life. Where Sophie’s chapters are mostly magical and phantastic, Jonas’ brings a more realistic view to the page and it’s a great contrast to see things through their very different eyes. At one point we even get to see a scene from both their perspectives, something I always enjoy in different media. The story itself manages to switch between very soft, quiet passages and energetic climaxes, just like in a good ballad. :D

Speaking of music: When I started reading the book I had to take out my music, so I could concentrate on reading, yet my shuffle already picked some very fitting music that just made the transition into the story even more magical. I’m sure if had listened to more music the even more fitting “To Hell and Back” by Sabaton would have come up too. (Like the YouTube one did when I prepared this review) ;)

At the core of it, the book is a love story and therefore has the necessary elements: A girl with rose-coloured glasses, a lover’s oath and instant affection. Some of it is explained through the characters situations and characteristics, but for someone like me, who’s not that much into romance it’s hard to take serious. Still, it doesn’t get too much attention and is integrated nice and naturally – especially the reactions in some situations. In general are the interactions between the characters and their respective reactions to certain turns of events very natural. Thus it doesn’t feel like your just reading a book, it feels more like you’re following their journey by their side.
As it is an adaptation some things were changed from the original Fairy Tale like the Old Lady and of course the curse itself – and that it was only one “princess”, but the other elements where nicely integrated: The invisibility cloak, the golden and silver forest, the river and the boats. The beautiful description made you see everything right before your eyes and the occasional peek behind the curtains of the DeModie is just as incredibly well done.

In addition to that were there a few very strong chapters, especially two shortly after the incredible Sylvester scene, that were necessary for the characters development. They were fascinating and thrilling, but also heart-wrenching and emotional. And I was certainly not prepared for that cemetery scene…

Other than that is the strength of the spell mostly portrayed by the contrast between everything happening/said outside and everything happening/said inside the DeModie it’s just thrilling, just as the changes we witness through Sophie’s eyes the more the story progresses. Through Jonas’ eyes we see what PTSD can do to a persons life and it’s something far too few people dare to admit is happening and even less authors to write about.

The authoress herself talked about a point of no return while reading and I can certainly relate to that as I did not really want to put down the book…I even dreamed about at least two aspects of the part I had previously read…
The book was really loudly calling out to me when I put it aside and it’s a bit creepy when the eponymous spell leaves the pages… >_<

And I still want to call the finale a dance-off, even if that does not describe it, at all. =D Though I do have to admit that I was a little confused at the different places the fight took place in and started to only concentrate on the characters and not their movements.

The characters

During the release party for this book Janna posted self-drawn images of the characters so I already had a picture of them in my head before I started reading (and Luca still looks like Benedict Cumberbatch to me…), which doesn’t mean that I stuck to it, but well just wanted to mention that they exist.  ;)

As I’ve mentioned before are the interactions between the characters very natural, which makes following their story so much easier. You can see this interaction especially with Jonas and Sophie: They motivate and help each other without wanting anything in return. What’s best about the characters is that all of them are flawed. Sophie is stubborn (just like her cousin ;) ) and doesn’t know when she should stop helping someone (Helper Syndrome) and take care of herself instead. Jonas has his PTSD flashbacks and Luca can be quite the arrogant prick. You want to know what’s even better? That these things are actually dealt with! The PTSD isn’t put aside as some non-consequential overreaction, it even makes Jonas a more visibly dangerous character than others. The twist(s) regarding it are amongst the best parts of the book. Sophie is again and again confronted with others worrying about her, while she worries about someone else, but it doesn’t mean it all doesn’t come crashing down on her. What I also enjoyed is that even though you knew Jonas had a crush on Sophie pretty fast, he didn’t push her or was especially jealous towards Luca. He just stepped aside and respected her choice.
In Short: Their journey is just incredible to follow and their character development is very natural and not at all forced.

The further the story went the more did the DeModie and the pretty princelings creep me out especially their bubbly energizers and their apathy towards anything concerning Sophie, but saying more here would spoil the fun. ;)

Even the other characters like Sophie’s father, Luca’s brothers and Jonas’ family, who don’t get that much screen time, have their own unique air about them. In Jonas’ families case there is also another great contrast when it comes to them dealing with his PTSD and it’s just awesome.

General Opinion

I know I’ve repeated myself over and over how great I found certain aspects, but I just can’t help it. I write reviews the way I see stuff and this book really was something special that certainly put me under its spell (pun intended ;) ).

The more I thought about it, the more I believed that I didn’t read a book but a written composition. The language of the dance crossed over into the telling of the story and turned the flow of reading into a reading experience that varied between fast, exciting main themes, emotional climaxes and slow interludes. The addressed topics (PTSD, Helper Syndrome, Dependency, Loss) were portrayed realistically and the characters reacted and interacted naturally and individually.

All in all a beautiful composition about life in its many complexities. :)

Stuff I’d like to add

Remember what I told you when I talked about Fairy Tale Crossovers? Sophie is the cousin of Leonie from the Axololtking. (Which by the way got a bonus scene about Leonie’s first day in school! Check it out: Bonusszene!)

As a reminder: As part of the challenge you can collect points by reviewing Fairy Tales yourself. 😉 You can also still participate in the Märchenrallye that Janna organized.

On Thursday you’ll get an interview with Janna about the book and some other Fairy Tale related stuff and on Saturday she’ll talk a bit about adapting Fairy Tales. So stay tuned!


© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.


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