by Shana Abe
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Bantam (April 2, 2013)
Buy the Book: Amazon
Mark on Goodreads
“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.
At a Glance:
I knew, from the first page of this book, even though I had no idea what it was about, that I was going to love it. I immediately connected with the beautifully written tone of The Sweetest Dark, and once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Why would I want to? Besides the moving prose, there was also a strangeness and mystery to the story that completely captivated me. Add to that a love story that was so endearing, and I was a goner!
Curiouser and Curiouser:
The entire time I was reading this, I was thinking, "This is so strange....and I like it!" I do have a tendency to like stranger books (Wicked Lovely, Carnival of Souls, Chime), but only if it's a kind of eery, beautiful strange, which I definitely found this book to be. The setting I pictured was often foggy and dark, and the characters all just had something a little mystifying about them. Lora heard music playing all the time and often had a voice in her head, telling her to do some sketchy things. Jesse seemed to be a mystery to everyone that lived at Iversone. They all believed him to be mute, but he spoke perfectly fine to Lora. Armand and his father obviously have some deep dark secret that they don't want anyone to know. Add to that the backdrop of The Great War, and it definitely leaves an ominous impression.
I went into this book not knowing what it was really about, and I highly recommend that you do the same. I had no idea what was going on with Lora, why she heard music and voices, where she came from, why she kept trying to jump. Even if I had guessed about Lora, I never, in a million years, would have guessed what mysteries Jesse was hiding. When I finally learned their secrets, I was shocked, and a little bumfuzzled. Again, it was all so strange, but it just worked for me. I'm pretty sure Shana Abe couldn't have written anything, and I would've gone with it, it was just so well done!
An Eccentric Romance:
What happens when two mysterious and strange characters fall in love? Definitely an eccentric romance. Their relationship was a tad quick, but there is a reason for that, and though I hate "insta-love," I was happy with this romance. It was interesting for me, too, because part of me loved Jesse, and part of me loved Armand. I also, don't like love triangles, but.....I did, and it wasn't exactly a triangle. And the two parts of me were battling each other, because while I love that "fated love," that instinctual bond that some characters have (Melissa Marr is really good at this), I also love a "bad boy" that isn't exactly bad. I just didn't know who to pick! By the end of the book, though, I had a clear winner in my mind, but I'm not telling you who it is!
Quick Wits and Sharp Tongues:
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was Lora's snark. She was a spitfire, don't hold back, hit 'em where it hurts, hellion if I ever read one. I loved the banter between her and Armand. LOVED IT. But I really loved the way she put it to the snotty, stuck up boarding school girls in her class. It was awesome, and I wish I had half the wit that she did!
A Minor Hangup (This will only make sense if you've read it):
If I had one, tiny, (not even) complaint, it would be that some of it was a little too far fetched and strange. Usually, in paranormal reads like this, there's kind-of a purpose to the powers, if that makes sense. They're fighting something, or fighting for something. There's an opposing force. In this there was kind-of an accidental opposition, but it didn't really have anything to do with Lora, she just happened to be there. Again, not a big deal for me, but just something I noted.
Will I buy it?
I have this on my Kindle. I think I'll wait for the series to finish (been burned too many times by bad endings or changing book covers), and then I'll buy the hard copies.
Chime by Franny Billingsly, Lips Touch Three Times by Lani Taylor
- Profanity: Moderate*
- Sexual Content: Moderate*
- Violence: Moderate
- Other Notables: Some alcohol usage