Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

Book:  The Sweetest Dark
Author:  Shana Abé
Date: Now available
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“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.

Initial reaction
That was a breathe of fresh air!  Something completely different!

Cover story
I really like this cover and I like the title.  Hooray!

What’s the Story?
This book was so refreshingly different.  I don’t want to give the whole premise away, but let me just say that this is a type of paranormal that is not found frequently.  In fact, I can only think of one other series that deals with this sort of supernatural being and I haven’t read it, so this was my first encounter with this particular sort of supernatural in a novel.

In many ways, this book’s style reminded me of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.  There is an almost dream-like quality to the narrative.  It was as if the edges of the story were slightly blurred or foggy, if that makes sense.  When I read a book, I always “see” the story like a film running through my head, and in this book, that film had a blurred quality, very smudged around the edges, if you will.

I’m usually not a huge fan of historical paranormal (The Infernal Devices notwithstanding!), but I really enjoyed this one.  The backdrop of World War I made this story interesting.  I also think it is what allowed the story to work so well.  These characters were just perfect for this time setting.

There was a love triangle, but not really, because I don’t think there was the same pull toward each of the male characters.  In a very Celtic manner, it deals with love as a tragic destiny.  There were parts that broke my heart and yet, I can’t wait to continue reading the story.  The same thing happens to me every time I read Tristan and Isolde or a King Arthur story; I know that it’s not going to end well, but I love it all the same.  I’m not sure if any of this story is part of Celtic lore, but it feels as if it could be!

I really, really enjoyed this book and I am anxiously looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Soundtrack

Breathe Again by Sara Bareilles

All of My Days by Alexi Murdoch

Haste No More by Mumford and Sons

Bleeding Love by Mystery Jets

Shine by Alexi Murdoch

The Final Grade

My final grade for this book is an A.  I loved it.  It was different and it was profoundly heartbreaking, but I enjoyed it immensely in spite of that. 

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