I received this book for free from ARC in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Series: The Sweetest Dark #1
Published by Bantam on April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, YA
“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.
So you know how I’ve been ranting on twitter about the complete lack of originality in today’s fiction? What do you mean you don’t follow me on twitter?! Of course you do! I mean, why wouldn’t you like to get constant awesome 140 charter length treats from me throughout the day? Anywho, I was ranting last week about how lately everything I read is so cookie cutter. And I was all but begging the book writing God’s to send me something that would be completely different from anything else I’ve read. The Sweetest Dark was their answer.
You see The Sweetest Dark is this dark yet fairytale-ish/romancey/historical fiction book. And yes, I know that’s a lot of stuff for one book to have going on but in all honestly it not only worked but somehow it became this unique thing that I’m proud to say I’ve never experienced before. There was action, and adventure! Secrets and romance! Lord’s, Ladies, peasants and a abundance of British accents! And even though I do not like historical fiction the entire setting, era, and atmosphere just drew me in! I wanted to be in this giant castle with those other twit girls who thought the only point of life was marrying into money. I wanted to see the stars that sang to Lora. But I’m jumping ahead!
The Sweetest Dark has a very misleading blurb in many aspects. For one, if I would have known it was “historical fiction” there is no way I would have requested it (even though I’m happy I did!). Another thing that irked me about the blurb was how it didn’t really embody the true magic and wonder that was inside this book! I mean obviously it was mysterious enough for me to request it, but I just feel that with all the wonder going on in this book it could have been showcased just a little in the blurb. Besides that minor speed bump I really enjoyed The Sweetest Dark.
Our main characters, Lora, Jesse, and Armand, were a dynamic fit for an adult sized emotional seesaw! And I loved them so much for having all those dynamics but somehow still balancing out in the end! Lora has had a life so rough that I personally want to go and kick every adult who has ever wronged her ass! But she’s also smart, and so level headed that I actually sighed when she acted in a rational manner! Whether it was rationally fainting or rationally leaping out of windows, she always acted in a way that made me want to constantly stand up and applaud. Jesse was the “rock” of our trio. He always knew exactly what to say it and how to say it, but he was also so magnificent (his “gift” is ridonkulous!) that I knew that if and when the time came he would probably be the most bad ass of the three. Armand was our wild card and polar opposite. While Jesse and Lora had worked for their meals Mandy (yeah I don’t like it either) was born the son of a Duke! A honest to God (messed up in the head) DUKE! And yes I know Duke’s were common in the era but, COME ON! I basically just met a Duke! Any way, Mandy had this whole “I’m raised as a gentleman, but I bribe servants, drive fast and do what I want” attitude and while he was never arrogant I actually really liked that about him.
I loved watching them interact as everything unfolded but, the cherry on the “this book was really good” cake was the writing. Abe has a unbelievable way with words that made this story so gripping and amazing that it took me DAYS to write this review. I was so shocked to have something new and unique in my lap, that I seriously finished and couldn’t make heads or tails of my feelings. I’m excited to start the sequel and experiencing more of Abe’s talent.