Saturday, April 6, 2013

ARC Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark
Author: Shana Abé
Publication: Bantam (April 2, 2013)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: What a wonderfully romantic book! THE SWEETEST DARK introduces a young child who was found wandering the streets of London. When no one claimed her, she was sent to an orphanage, named Eleanore Jones (but quickly became known as Lora), and raised in a very poor part of London. When she was found, she was mute but gradually her words come back and in an accent that made her sound aristocratic. This wasn't the only thing unusual about Lora. She was paler than most and had quicker reactions. Stones sang to her and she heard a voice inside her heart. When she couldn't conceal what she was hearing, she was sent for "treatment" including "daily ice bath submergence, mercury tonics, and biweekly harnessing/electrical shock." She pretended to get well as soon as possible.

When war came, many Londoners sent their children to the presumably safer countryside. Lora got to go too which was unusual for poor orphans. She was offered a place at a posh school for girls at the prompting of the Duke of Idylling. Upon arrival, she meets Jesse Holms who appears to be a mute and simple gardener—but Jesse talks to her and tells her astonishing things about herself—that she is dragon born and he is a star; that he called her there and had been searching for her all his life. She also meets the second son of the Duke—Armand Louis.

The story is filled with discoveries as Lora learns what she can do. It is also filled with her wonderful romance with Jesse which will set any teenage heart to beating more quickly. Armand pursues her too but his secrets make them better companions than lovers. The story is also filled with danger and sacrifices as the world is falling into World War I. Armand has to deal with a father who is already reeling from the suicide of his wife who likely had some dragon blood herself. Armand has inherited some dragon tendencies too though he had thought he was going mad not going dragon. When Armand's older brother and the Duke's most favored son is killed in an aerial battle, the Duke goes completely out of control leading to the stunning climax of this first book in a series.

Readers will be eager to know what happens next for the characters. Luckily, the wait won't be too long. THE DEEPEST NIGHT will be released in August. 

Favorite Quote:
With the same absolute concentration he might have shown for turning flowers into gold, Jesse Holms smoothed out my fingers between his, wiping away the blood. He turned my hand over and lifted it to his lips. His next words fell soft as velvet into the heart of my palm.

"Those nights, in the sweetest dark, we shared our dreams. That's your answer. I was stitched into yours, and you were stitched into mine, and that was real, I promise you." I felt his lips curve into a smile. The unbelievably sensual, ticklish scoff of his whiskers. "Very good dreams they were, too," he added.  
I chose this eARC from NetGalley because I have read and enjoyed the author's books for adults. You can buy your copy here.

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