Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
“A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Random House Publishing Group and Netgalley.)
Sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is an orphan. An orphan who doesn’t even remember her parents, and can hear melodies no-one else can hear.
Having spent time in a mental institution after leaping from her top floor window thinking that she could fly, Lora finds herself sent to school for girls called Iverson, where she is looked down upon by the rich students, who don’t want to associate with a charity case.
Lora finds herself capturing the attention of two different men though. Jesse the hired help who maintains the grounds, and Armand, the owner’s son. Jesse knows what Lora really is though, and is about to help her become what she was born to be.
What is Lora though? What is Jesse? And who will she choose?
I liked this book, the writing was beautiful, and the mystery surrounding what Lora really was was quite compelling.
Lora was a quick-witted girl, who knew that she was poor, but didn’t listen when people told her that she was less than the rich girls. She tried her best to fit in and follow rules, but she also wasn’t afraid to make waves, and often came out with things that would have been considered b*tchy and inappropriate! Whether this was because of the way she was raised in the orphanage, or whether it was just her I’m not sure, but at several times I cheered that she stuck up for herself against the rich girls, and some of her insults were bril!
There were two love interests in this book – Jesse, who worked at the school and was thought to be mute (but wasn’t), and Armand, the owners son. Lora seemed to prefer Jesse, but I personally loved Armand! He was a little dark and dangerous, and being with him would have really ruffled feathers! This was one of those love triangles that was a little irritating because Lora was a little blind to it, and also because I thought she was making the wrong choice!
I liked the storyline in this book, and although the fantasy aspect could have been odd in this historic novel (circa WW1), it was actually blended in really well, and the idea of mythical creatures didn’t seem unlikely. I did like the beginning more than the end though, I think some of the mystery was lost towards the end, but I did like it overall. The way this book was written was quite beautiful and flowing, which added to the mystery and Victorian feel, and I really liked it.
The ending to the book was quite shocking with one characters sudden demise(!) and other events surrounding Lora, it will be very interesting to see where the story goes from here!
Overall; a YA historical fantasy novel with a splash of romance.
8 out of 10.