The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe {Review}

The Sweetest DarkThe Sweetest Dark
Series: The Sweetest Dark #1
by Shana Abe
Published by Bantam on April 2nd 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
AmazonGoodreads
“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.

The Sweetest DarkThe Sweetest Dark
Series: The Sweetest Dark #1
by Shana Abe
Published by Bantam on April 2nd 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
AmazonGoodreads

“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 story follows the life of Eleanor “Lora” Jones, an orphan in London during 1909. Although the story takes place in the past, the author gives the characters and events a modern feel. So much so, that I often forgot that this was set in 1909 until it would be mentioned. Personally I liked this aspect of the book because I am not much of a historical fiction fan.

From the very beginning you feel for Lora. She is found wandering the streets alone, with no memory of her past and without the ability to speak. When no one claims her, she is sent to the Moor Gate Orphanage. Here, she eventually regains her ability to speak and learns to live in a society. All is going well, until she begins hearing things that other people cannot hear. Music. It’s everywhere. And there is a voice, a type of inner monologue that she cannot control and that has a deviously twisted personality. Lora is forced to undergo some rather radical “prescriptions” to attempt to rid her of her afflictions. This is one of those parts in the book that we are vividly reminded that it is still 1909. Yikes.

The author has an amazing ability to paint a scene, her words take on a lyrical quality that had me mesmerized. One of my favorite passages was just after Lora left the Moor Gate Orphanage to start a new beginning at the Iverson School for Girls in Idylling:

“Victoria station was cavernous, a fairy-work construction of wrought iron and steel and great canopies of glass, with locomotives that heaved and puffed into their slots by the platforms like groaning overstuffed beasts.”

I can picture the train station as clearly as if I were standing there with Lora, smelling the must in the air and feeling the sticky warmth as the steam rolls through.

Upon arriving in Idylling, Lora meets Armand – the Duke of Idellying’s son and bred into privilege. More on him later because the next person that Lora meets is Jesse. *Swoon* I love Jesse! He is wise beyond his years and so gentle with Lora as she makes her way along a path of re-discovery. Jesse is actually the person that helps Lora discover why she hears music that no one else can hear and where that voice is coming from. She is a Drakon – a person with a special ability to Turn at will into a dragon. Of course, with any really good paranormal ability, controlling it takes practice and patience. Jesse is all too happy to help Lora practice Turning, especially when she returns to being a girl, without her previous clothing intact. :)

For those who do not follow Shana Abe’s writing, she has a complete adult series on the Drakon that you can check out HERE. This book brings the world of the Drakon into the young adult genre in a way that is both effortless and exciting. Because I love all things young adult, I am happy to see this wonderful author bringing her abilities into the genre.

Main Characters:

Eleanor “Lora” Jones – Approximately 16 years old. She is an orphan found wandering the streets unable to speak. Her journey of self-discovery takes her from being a timid, scared little girl to becoming a wildly fierce and protective Drakon who is willing to fight to the death to keep those she loves safe.

Jesse Holms – A hired hand at the Iverson School for Girls. Jesse has been in love with Lora all his life. He helps her discover her new-found abilities and shares some of his own.

Armand – Son of the Duke of Idylling. He is bred of power and has been raised to act with authority even though he is hiding the fact that his mother killed herself in a delirious state of confusion – one that he battles with himself.

 

What is your favorite thing about paranormal romances? Are you looking forward to this book? Did you add it to your TBR list? Tell us about it!

About Shana Abe

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.

Many of Abé’s novels have 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.

Connect with Shana on her WEBSITE.

About Meagan

Meagan is a Reviewing Wonderland founder and featured reviewer. Because reading books does not go far in paying the bills, Meagan is also an established certified public accountant (I know, right) and spends most of her time working or spending time with her family.
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2 Responses to The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe {Review}

  1. Trish Hannon says:

    I love the sound of this, set in the early 1900′s in England, that alone convinced me. Add in the beautiful prose in the lines you quoted and I was hooked. Definitely adding to my tbr shelf, thanks :)
    Check out Trish Hannon’s most recent post! – Book Review : Warm Bodies by Isaac MarionMy Profile

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