Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Sweetest Dark - Shana Abé

Titel: The Sweetest Dark
Author: Shana Abé
Series: The Sweetest Dark #1
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 352
Publication Date: April 2, 2012
Source: ARC

“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.


I didn't read a single review before I started The Sweetest Dark which means I had no idea what kind of magic I was about to witness - and I'm so glad I didn't! I'll make sure this review contains no spoilers of any kind, including the essence of the magic.

Those nights, in the sweetest dark, we shared our dreams.

It took me a while to get into the story, mainly because I didn't like Lora - She is a vicious bitch most of the time She's just not a very pleasant person. She did grow on me, however, and the more she got involved with the other characters, the more I liked her; she stopped being annoying for the purpose of being annoying and started defending herself only when necessary. Her past is revealed bits by bits and shows a strong and determined girl whose distrust is easily understood.

I completely and utterly adore Jesse - he is amazing and his music is so beautifully described, I can hear it every time I think of him. I like Armand too, but it took me a while longer to care for him. Even though the summary makes it seem like there is going to be a classic love triangle this is not the case! The feelings between the characters are slowly developed, they seem realistic and at the same time they seem unbelievable. It's so beautiful and captivating.

The ending is perfect, yet heartbreaking and left me both wanting to read the next book right away and rereading this book all over. 
The writing is absolutely stunning! It's poetic at times, compelling and hauntingly beautiful. I loved every second I spent reading this book and I felt like I was right there with Lora, being a part of everything she went through.

I could smell the coming summer still, just as I had my first evening here, as I'd stepped from the train. It was warmer and lusher now, less a tinge in the air than a sultry blossoming. It traveled across the sea and laced through these woods. It slipped up my arms and neck and face and kissed me with the faintest hint of bitter salt.

Let's talk about the magic! It's unlike anything I have ever read about and I felt like I once again was a part of times gone by; back when someone read fairy tales out loud to me and I could dream away to the soothing voice. It was beautiful, amazing and quite an adventure. Being able to mix WWI, boarding schools, class differences, magic and love without ever making it seem unnatural or weird is some achievement. Shana Abé is a brilliant story teller and I can't wait to read the next in this series. The Sweetest Dark has my highest praises!

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