Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Sweetest Dark

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 352
Keywords: World War I, magic, fantasy
Format Read: hardcover from publisher in exchange for honest review (thank you!)

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. 

I'll start with the things I liked. I loved the historical setting this story took place in. It was set during World War I, and it was clear the author did her research. Everything was accurate and detailed, adding to the believability of the story as a whole. Though this doesn't happen very often, I actually wanted there to be more of the historical stand point. As in, while all the students are hanging up at Iverson, Lora seems to be the only one actually concerned that their country is in the middle of a war. And all these kids' parents are the rich generals and guys that would actually be involved. I wanted more of the history stuff in there.

I also thought the premise was interesting. It's not one that pops up a lot, with all the supernatural business, this was my first encounter with the dragon thing. However, I did want more of an explanation of why things were the way they were. Lora heard this song when she was nearby Jesse and other things, but I wanted to know why that was, and where it came from, and what it meant. It wasn't bad the way it was explained, I just wanted more.

I also wanted more from some of the characters. Armand and her friend Sophia in particular. I suppose with the way the first one ended, Armand will be featured quite a bit in the second one, but I still wanted more of his backstory and more of his personality in it. It just felt like he was constantly brushed aside. Sophia was also a minor character, but she helped Lora get around and discover some secrets of Iverson, making her a semi-crucial character. I just wanted more of her because her character was so appealing to me.

I probably won't read the second one in this series. I'm fine with the way the first one ended. It was a good book, but I wasn't super emotionally invested in it or any of the characters, but still interesting and fun to read.

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