Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark
Author Shana Abe
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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, gothiccastle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny. 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.
Review:  On a scale of one to five, The Sweetest Dark falls smack dab in the middle for me. I liked the historical aspects of the book, but wasn't as excited about the fantasy portion of the read. I have nothing against dragons, but the shifting in this book just didn't grab me. This one leans more towards the Disney-rated teen read. If you're hoping for something darker, this won't fulfill your hopes - but, it is a good book for younger readers interested in the genre. Those who like the dragon-fantasy realm will probably favor this one more than historical fiction fans. 

The Sweetest Dark is different because it combines historical fiction, airships, dukes, boarding schools, orphans, alchemy, magic and dragons all rolled into a single plot line. Seems impossible, but Abe does just that. What is ordinary is the obvious love triangle, poor-orphan characterization and snobby elite. It's one half Jane Eyre with equal parts alchemist meets dragon.
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*ARC provided by Bantam courtesy of Netgalley

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