Title: The Sweetest Dark
Author: Shana Abe
Format Acquired: Netgalley ARC
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publishing House: Bantam
Summary from 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.
How do I even begin to describe this literally breathtaking novel? This book was incredible, point blank. I have never read a novel that was as whimsical, mystical, and taunting wrapped up all in one. The novel is set in the WWI era and starts out with Lora and her experiences in the orphanage and the mental institution. You see, Lora is not your typical human. In fact, she is hardly human at all. She is able to hear the mysterious songs of gold, and precious gems, and she has a daunting voice inside telling her all sorts of absurd things. Lora is special, which is seen from the very beginning. But, like all young adult novels, Lora is also a teenager. She is sent off the a pristine boarding school on scholarship away from the bombings in London. Here, she meets two very handsome, very mysterious boys.
I was torn between these two boys. I wasn't sure which one I loved more, but either way I loved to love them. Jesse is the groundskeeper for Iverson boarding school and he is everything you would expect is a total swoon worthy character. He is handsome, caring, and just precious. Armand, on the other hand is a lot tougher. He definitely has a rough exterior, but he also holds secrets that must be protected by his hard shell. Both of them were quite the gentleman in one way or another.
Unlike most young adult novels, this ones writing went so much more in depth. It carried a whimsical quality that flowed like the wind on a clear summer night. Everything was written so delicately and precisely. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style. Also unlike young adult novels, the ending to this one had a somber note to it. It was the perfect ending, because it was foreshadowed throughout, but it did not stop the tears in the least.
I guarantee you will love this novel if you enjoy dragons, swoon worthy characters, and a bit of mystical storytelling. What are you waiting for?
Shana Abé was born in Texas. She spent much of her childhood living in Colorado, with a brief stint in Mexico as a foreign exchange student, and, at age seventeen, lived in Japan as a model. Throughout her childhood, Abé wrote, completing what she calls "The Silliest Romance Novel Ever" during her free time during modeling shoots. Her writing focused on romance, as those were the types of books that she most enjoyed reading. She later attended college in Los Angeles, graduating with a degree in drama.Her second novel, also a contemporary romance, took third place in a writing contest. She sent the book to several prospective agents, many of which responded with questions similar to "Nice voice — but what line are you writing for?" Unwilling to try to fit her writing into some of the rules that governed contemporary romances, Abé chose to concentrate on historical romances. For her first attempt at a historical romance, the newlywed Abé chose to tell the story of her own romance with her husband, set in medieval times. The manuscript was purchased by Bantam Books and published as A Rose in Winter.
Many of Abé's subsequent novels have also been set in the medieval time period. Abé chose the time period because of its "great sense of dichotomy....It inspires thoughts of grandeur, of courtly grace and chivalrous knights — but at the same time there's a gritty, raw aspect to the period that just cannot be denied."
Abé has received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and has been nominated six times for Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards, winning twice