I read this book a few years ago and want to again, but I can't remember the name or author. What I remember was that one of the characters could dance and magic would happen, except one of his older relatives didn't want him to do that.

There was a subplot(?) where an assassin was trying to figure out how to kill someone.

It was located in a port city, and it reminds me of an Arabic/Oriental culture. The cover had the magic dancer with his arms up in a U, and his right foot in front of his left. The book was paperback and is a YA book.

  • Hi there! there's some nice info in there already but maybe you could take a look at these guidelines, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit in? For instance, how long ago is "a few years ago"? For some people out there, the 80's were just "a few years ago" :)
    – Jenayah
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


Probably Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce.

While out riding with her uncle, Sandry makes two discoveries: the murder of Rokat part of the war between organized crime families Rokat and Dihanur, and a boy named Pasco, whose dancing is visible to Sandry's magical vision as imbued with ambient magic

The first edition has a picture Pasco dancing on the beach, but very far away, and subsequent editions emphasize him.

Magic Steps original edition cover (from Wikipedia)Most recent edition cover of Magic Steps

A longer summary from Goodreads:

Lady Sandrilene fa Toren knows all about unusual magic - she herself spins and weaves it like thread. But when she witnessed a boy dancing a spell, even she is confounded. To her dismay, Sandry learns that as the mage who discovered the power of the young dancer, she must be his teacher. Before lessons can begin, however, Sandry and her uncle, Duke Vedris, get news of a mysterious murderer stalking a clan of local merchants. The killer employs the strangest magic of all: the ability to reduce essence to nothingness. As the murders mount and the killer grows bolder, Sandry's teaching takes on a grave purpose. For it becomes clear to everyone that the killings can only be stopped by the combined workings of two people: the young teacher and her even younger student.

  • 1
    I've taken the liberty of editing in the cover image from the earlier edition that seems to match OPs description
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 18:02
  • Max, if this is the right answer, you can accept it by cliking the checkmark button on the left. Please do; it shows everyone the mystery was solved and will reward both you and eshier with some reputation :)
    – Jenayah
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 18:04

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