Book Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé
Title: The Sweetest Dark
Series: (The Sweetest Dark #1)
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Paranormal, Dragons
Publication Date: April 2nd 2013
Pages: 352 pages
“With every fiber
of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson
without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about
to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.
Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time. Summary and image from Goodreads.
I really enjoyed The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé and thought it was a wonderful story filled with lush prose and rich atmosphere. Shana Abé weaves a magical tale of first love, self-discovery, and the enchanting world of the drákon. If you're a fan of Young Adult books with a touch of magic and enjoy the rich descriptions often found in A historical, then I think you will enjoy The Sweetest Dark, Shana Abé's Young Adult debut book.
SETTING AND SUMMARY: Set in England in 1915, at the start of WWI, The Sweetest Dark begins in London, at Blisshaven Foundling Home. It is here at Blisshaven orphanage where we are first introduce to Eleanore Jones ( Lora ), and begin to unravel the mystery of her and her secret heritage, the drákon. With no memory of her past, Lora is thrust into life at the orphanage where she learns to be tough and quick witted in order to survive. At the orphanage Lora begins to hear things, songs and melodies that seem to come from stones and metals, even from the stars above. It is also at the orphanage where Lora begins to hear a voice, a secret voice deep inside her.
"The worst was the voice. The one that seemed centered not inside my head but instead just exactly inside my heart. It was cunning and fiendish, whispering the maddest things."
Lora realizes how different she really is from the other children at the orphanage, and learns the hard way that she must hide and keep secret these unique abilities, and that her heart-voice must never be talked about.
As the story progresses we get to travel with an older and wiser Lora to the prestigious Iverson, an elite boarding school along England's southern coast. Lora is chosen to receive a scholarship from the Duke of Idylling to attend Iverson. Here among the amazing hunk of a Gothic castle and it's vast grounds, Lora learns to maneuver among the cruel and snotty girls at Iverson, where she becomes an expert at the art of verbal sparring.
"With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I'd have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very, different way than I'd ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach."
Soon Lora’s world is about to be turned upside down at Iverson when she meets two boys who will open her eyes to the Drákon, and change her very destiny. There is Jesse, the groundskeeper who seems to have some kind of prior knowledge of Lora’s Drákon heritage, and Armand, the arrogant aristocrat who seems almost compelled to be with Lora and shares one of her dark secrets. Both boys are fascinated by Lora and both will try to win her heart. But soon everything changes as a dangerous war is about to make its way to Iverson, and all three must work together in order to save themselves.
“It ( Iverson ) would be better than Blisshaven, I told myself, savoring each chewy bite of that cold sausage on the train. Better than Moor Gate. Better than anything, really. How could it not be? Of course, that last, hopeful thought occurred to me only hours before I would meet Jesse and Armand, those two savagely different and yet dangerously similar creatures who were destined to dig their talons into me and change my life forever.”
CHARACTERS: I thought Lora was wonderful and very likeable. I especially enjoyed her verbal sparring expertise and quick-wittiness, it was great to see her put a few not-so-nice characters in their place. Lora’s character showed amazing strength and bravery, and my heart went out to her more than once.
Jesse you are so mysterious, dare I say the stars above shine in your eyes. Obviously there is much more to Jesse than just a school’s groundskeeper. Jesses has been waiting for Lora for a long time. Yes, there is something really special about Jesse, and it pulls Lora to him like a magnet. He’s captivating... and that’s all I can say because I don’t want to give too much away!
At first Armand seemed as arrogant as he was handsome, but soon I could see that there was something special about Armand. Like Lora, his character also goes through some major changes and growth. A caring and likeable character is revealed along with a eye opening secret. I think I actually liked his character better than Jesse because he felt more tangible, more real as a character.
THE ROMANCE: There
is definitely a love triangle in The Sweetest Dark. But Shana Abé has
played a little trick upon us, both boys play a very important role in
Lora's life. Lora is drawn to Jesse like no other, and he seems to know
about Lora's past and the heritage of the drákon. Then there's Armand,
the arrogant aristocrat who shares a bond with Lora that both are
unaware of, but ties them together.
SWOON LEVEL: Swoon. Shana Abé likes to make everything
mysterious and you're not sure what is real and what is a dream. Like a
curtain slyly being pulled right at the “juicy parts.”
SWOON QUOTE: Is this Jesse or Armand?? Hmm...I can't tell. You’ll just have to read it yourself!
“I took it from him, ( Lora’s forgotten hat) and our fingertips brushed. With that mere glancing touch, the music I’d been attempting so hard to repress flared to life, a brilliant, beautiful explosion of sound that filled my body and flooded my senses, wiping away everything else like chalk from a slate board. I was suffused with a pleasure so profound, it robbed me of sight and speech; I was blind aching bliss, and for all I knew I was moaning with it, just like the whores on the street corners back in St. Giles, and, God help me, I didn’t even care.”
Yes folks, that was from a mere touch.... Is that hot or what?
WHAT I LIKED: I love how Shana Abé always has a spirited and quick witted heroine in her stories. One who can take matters into her own hands. And of course I'm a sucker for what I call "Candy Prose", you know the lush and descriptive words that makes your mouth water, almost like you can almost taste it!
WHAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED: I would have liked more background information on Jesse’s character. I felt a little left in the dark about who and what Jesse is, what role does he play later on or does he? I love mystery, but I would have like more background on Jesse.
THE ENDING: All I can say is the book was an pretty amazing read for me. The ending was both hopeful and heartbreaking. It was so bittersweet to me that I had tears in my eyes. I'm definitely looking forward to book two of The Sweetest Dark series.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I really liked it!