The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) by Shana Abe
Published by Bantam, 2013
For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“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.
“A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK I HAVE READ THIS YEAR.
I'm not even sure how to start this review. Shana Abe stole my heart, put it in a blender, and then made a cake out of it. I was blown away, breathless, and stunned. Yes, all those cliches.
The Sweetest Dark starts off with Lora, an orphan who received a scholarship to a boarding school when the orphanage closed. At the train station on the way to school, she meets Armand, son of the man who has paid for her scholarship. She also meets Jesse, the schoolhand who takes her breath away.
All sorts of interesting things happen like Lora hearing music (as she has her whole life), people telling her that Jesse is mute even though he talked to her that first day and continues to meet, Lora discovering she can create her own music on the piano which she had never played a day in her life. Then Armand seems too obsessed with her and she of course is falling in love with Jesse.
Jesse. A star.
And Lora as it turns out. A dragon.
Dragon protects star. Star adores dragon.
The story is complex and unputdownable. At one point I lost my kindle and missed it so much I read the rest of the story on my phone. That never happens. Oh yeah, and I actually clutched the phone in my hand telling the book (out loud) how much I love it.
The writing is so beautiful, the story is so beautiful. I fell in love and I'm not ashamed. There is music, there are teas, there are two amazing boys that I wanted both for Lora even when she didn't notice the one. There is the discovery of dragons. There are paranormal creatures I've rarely seen before. Hello star. I love you!
I highly recommend this book. The writing reminded me a lot of Rhiannon Paille or Maggie Stiefvater, so if you like either of those authors I believe you'll like this one too.
I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series.
Disclaimer: I received a free ecopy of the book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.