I received this book for free from 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: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
“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.
This is one of those books that stands out in originality and uniqueness. The creature featured here is different, beautiful and one I haven’t read much about. It was refreshing stepping out of the “norm” in this paranormal world we all fancy. Although this story was beautiful and a whole and the writing was phenomenal, I couldn’t love this one.
Abe’s writing is detailed and beautiful. She goes above and beyond with her details and descriptions. It was interesting reading in a different ERA, as I don’t read too much historical books. The story is told primarily from our protagonist, Lora’s, POV. It does from time to time, switch to third person in the perspectives of Armand and Jesse. This was difficult for me, because at times I didn’t know whose perspective I was getting. To be honest, I don’t really know WHY she switched the POV. There wasn’t a whole lot that we discovered. I did however, like the letters-few as there were. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of them. (and I was shocked when we realized to they were to) The pacing is slow, this is a character driven story-not plot, but there were times when I was extremely bored and started to skim. This may be because, at times, I was thoroughly confused. For the better part of the book, I was waiting for something to happen. When something did happen-towards the end- it didn’t fit with the rest of the story.
The lore and magical aspects of the story are confusing, yet interesting. There were many gaps in the development of the world and it left me with too many questions. There was a story told by Jesse about half was through and I just couldn’t put my figure on the point of it. My mind kept wandering back to it, trying to figure out what he meant but it (if anything) and it’s significance. The different “transformations” that Lora was able to do were just odd. Is there a reason she was able to turn to that? I was hoping for a more detailed description after she Turned and to SEE her more. For most of the story, we know what she is and I was anticipating her first transformation. It just fell flat. She had some pretty intriguing “powers” though.
I liked Lora. She was strong and brave and just held her chin through everything. It couldn’t have been easy living her life, especially in those times. What she went through was just horrible and although it helped form her as a person, she never dwelled on her past or felt sorry for herself. She was grateful for what little she had. She was pretty quick to accept what Jesse had told her about herself. I don’t know WHY this bothers me. However, she went all in and always pushed herself to be better, stronger. She wasn’t easily pushed around. By anyone. I loved that she didn’t take all the crap from the girls of the school, as well as the teachers. This girl had a back bone made of steel.
As for the boys. To ME, this didn’t feel like a love-triangle. Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t feel, for a while at least, that Armand hard feelings for her. He did, over time, develop them but it felt like one of those..like attracts like situations. Lora always had her heart and mind-set on Jesse. No wandering thoughts on which boy to choose. If there were, it was subtle and completely lost on me. We did have some insta love going on. I have a hard time with the whole “soul mates” or “made for you” bologna. Yes it works from time to time, but I was not feeling it here. I like Armand a lot more than Jesse. There’s more depth to his character. He was funny and I liked how he didn’t treat Lora like glass. Although I HATED what he called her. His and Lora’s interactions were cute and humorous and I looked forward to when we saw them together again. Jesse was just bland. I felt like he was more a teacher and mentor (which he technically was) over a love interest. Their interactions primarily focused on her and her Transformation.
The ending pretty much broke my heart. A few things clicked into place about Jesse and his intentions here but I felt kind of.. deflated. I don’t feel like it’s a set up to end the “love triangle” or to set up the next book. I can easily see this as a stand alone or the first in a series. I would defiantly read the next book if this is a series. There was just too much unanswered for me to be completely satisfied.
Overall- I liked it. The writing is beautiful and the story was unique. I would recommend this to those who like slower, more detailed story’s that are more character driven over plot driven.
Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic, and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter & Instagram for random shenanigans.