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Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

(The Bolshoi Saga #1)

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  629 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Marya is a ballet dancer born of privilege; her mother, Sveta, is the most popular ballet dancer in the Soviet Union and its glamorous face to the West.

When Sveta disappears, Marya and her father suspect their own lives are in danger and arrange a harrowing defection. Marya is certain that her father is doomed to be murdered at their new home in Brighton Beach, where his
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Soho Teen (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  629 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
abandoned at 45%. it was slightly entertaining with all things Soviet but since they moved to Brooklyn it became utterly boring. and it's supposed to be a spy triller, mind it ...more
Claude's Bookzone
Jul 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 Stars
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
Originally posted at:

The extent of history that I know associated with Russia and the Soviet Union would include Anastasia, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and now this book. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy had a ton of history in it– people, places, events. I loved the journey from the Soviet Union to Brooklyn, the effect of a new culture and new home on Marina.
This novel took me a while to complete. Nearly 300 pages, it surprised me that it took me so long
Mar 06, 2013 marked it as to-read
This sounds soooooo intriguing.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: june-2017
This book started out a bit slow for my liking as it was a bit of a learning curve to comprehend the use of Russian and English words. I liked Marya's character and her want to save everyone she loves even though she does not trust them. Ben was my favorite and I loved the relationship that he formed with Marya. Overall while this might not be one of my favorite reads, it was still short and enjoyable. ...more
Amaya Cooper
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, a good read, definitely want to read the second one!
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I couldn't exactly follow the story, but I learned a few words!! ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Marina is a teenager dancing in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. She is the daughter of Sveta, Bolshoi's prima ballerina. Both Sveta and Marina have "spells" that allow them to see things. This leads Sveta to be obsessed with sharing this state secret. Then, she suddenly disappears. Marina and her father escape Moscow to Brooklyn, New York and Marina has to begin her life anew. Marina's ballet helps her begin to assimilate to America, but it is very difficult. It makes it more diffi
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
For those more familiar with spy novels and Russian intrigue, this novel will probably have familiar terms and elements. I haven’t read many spy novels, proper spy novels, so I couldn’t really say. Unless, you count a lifelong obsession with the original Nikita. Marina is an interesting character; her struggles and internal conflicts both in Russia and in New York feel authentic and organic. She is intriguingly self-aware of her own privilege when she is living in Moscow and that gives an intere ...more
Review originally published at

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy has a terrific premise: 17-year-old ballerina Marina Dukovskaya is an up and coming ballerina in Moscow. Her mother, Svetlana Dukovskaya is one of Russia's prima donnas, and although past her prime, she is still very much in the spotlight. But one day Sveta disappears, taken by the KGB, and Marina and her father must flee to America. This book is full of ballet, the KGB, the Cold War, mobsters, fugitives, interna
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I absolutely love the title of this book-I think it's clever and it is one that stuck with me long after I had first read the synopsis of this book. I wish that the book had lived up to its clever title. I think that the story had a promising start--we get to see what life was like for one of the privileged few in Soviet-era Russia. That lifestyle is quickly disrupted when Marina's mother goes missing. Marina and her father are forced to flee the country and end up hiding out in Brooklyn. Marina ...more
Brandi Rae Fong
This was more of a 1980's Cold War spy book than a dancing book, which is actually a good thing--I love spy stories, even if they require a healthy dose of suspension of belief. However, the whole plot was set off by "visions" that both the main character and her mother were getting, in which the mother learned things that put the family in danger, forcing them to flee from USSR to the United States. The visions were basically a convient plot device that were never really explained, and were kin ...more
Kathryn Howe
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it

1 Girl, 4 Jobs

How many words can you use to describe your job without any synonyms? For many it includes Student, Sport, and family relation, either brother or sister. But what if you had to flee and you became the enemy target--then what would you be?

Marina is a teenage girl who was thrown into the mix of some top secret government information. Both she and her mom have visions; one has the past, the other the future. As unsettling as these become, Marina is forced to move on and contain some
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 star

"She knows something she should not. Something damaging. Something compromising. I don't know how. I didn't.. I mean I don't know how. You know that she has a sort of sixth sense."

Russia in the 80s was a dangerous place for everyone, there was the constant fear of losing your place or possibly saying something that someone else thought was bad. Marya's mother Sveta was a world known Russian Ballerina, because of that she was given special treatment most of the time, but it also means th
Raghad Sanuri
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book deserves more than 5 stars; the absolute mystery keeping you on edge all the time and the detailed imagery carries you through with the story as though you were a part of it. It is a Cold War spy story set in the world of ballet. The protagonist, is a spunky teenage ballerina, whose abilities engage her in anti-Soviet spy activity. The heavy ballet activity added intensity to the book- the dance elements are not just a passing plot point. The plot moves quickly and Marina (the protagon ...more
Marythios (AkaSusanne )
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears. Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Julliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Ma ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't...bad...but it really wasn't up my alley. It has everything you would expect from a YA spy novel so if that's your thing, by all means, go for it. Had I known a little less about Russia and Russian and ballet, I think I would have liked it more. Unfortunately the characters felt badly transplanted to me. ...more
Jammin Jenny
I really enjoyed this story that focuses on a prima ballerina that escapes the Soviet Union with her father to come to the U.S. Her mother (also a ballerina) had disappeared and they were hoping to find her or why and how she disappears. The author did a great job describing the Russian mafia and the layout of Brighton Beach in New York, a fairly large Russian community.
Katie Michna
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
While I thoroughly was intrigued by the title, I felt the author fell short in developing the characters. The plot moved well then slowed almost to a halt by midbook, and the use of the f-word word was unnecessary.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a lot! It was written in very simple language, which was very nice, and the plot was very well thought out and well written. I loved all the characters a lot and they made the book really great. I'd definitely recommend this book to a friend! ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
good book. i don't think teens of today will understand it. but great for the 70's and 80's kids who grew up loving a good spy bad spy story. a little choppy in time frame switches, ei here today and next two days later in a different spot with much happening and not covered. ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

It's sloooooow to start but ridiculously intriguing once it picks up!
I went on vacation and read a bunch of books about incompetent spies. Some more incompetent than others.
Shoshana G
I really enjoyed the setting and the characters but found the plot convoluted.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Melodramatic Cold War YA. The narrator and time period were interesting but the plot felt forced
3.5 stars. I was very intrigued. An interesting premise but jumped around a little. I would have liked some more fleshing out of the characters and some scenes.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not enough ballet ☹️ I’ll read the others if I can get them from the library but it wasn’t the book I wanted it to be.
"Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears. Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that ...more
Christianna Marks
You can read this and many other reviews on my YA book blog The White Unicorn!

This book seriously snuck up on me. To be honest, I picked it up because my dad always told us that our mom had been a Russian ballerina spy (which couldn't be further from the truth) and I thought it was funny that that's was what this book was about. So, I requested it, and I couldn't be happier that I did. It wasn't anything like what I thought it was going to be, but it was so much better. Sure this book wasn't per
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Elizabeth Kiem is the author of The Bolshoi Saga published by Soho Teen.

She has loved Moscow, New York and Alaska, and she currently lives in London, where she pursues projects that nurture passionate reading and brave writing.

Twenty-five years after leaving the barre, she still has dreams on pointe. In waking hours, she sticks to salsa.

Other books in the series

The Bolshoi Saga (3 books)
  • Hider, Seeker, Secret Keeper (The Bolshoi Saga #2)
  • Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn (The Bolshoi Saga #3)

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