Review–The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1)
by Shana Abe
Summary: 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.

Source: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Oh, how this book stole my heart. I have so many feels.
“Those nights, in the sweetest dark, we shared our dreams.”
The Sweetest Dark was a stunning and magical story. I couldn’t put it down. If I expected a run of the mill paranormal YA, I was definitely mistaken, much to my delight. The premise was unique; it was literally something I’ve never come across in the paranormal genre and it was well executed. I had no idea what to expect around each corner. The writing was beyond excellent and it had a poetic quality to it that I really enjoyed.

I was immediately captivated by Lora Jones and her story. The strange voice in her head, the music no one else seemed to hear, and the struggle of being a starving orphan were already tough to balance, and harder still with the possibility Lora might be crazy. I loved Lora’s character. Her struggles definitely helped shape her into a person who appreciated more in life, which was a stark contrast to the girls she was surrounded by at Iverson. I respected her and I also respected the fact that she didn’t back down from anyone else. She was polite and courteous when she needed to be, but not as a rule. With Jesse’s help, she was able to figure out what was going on with her and why she kept hearing strange music and what it all meant. She was able to find her place in the universe, so to speak.
“I learned that night that the loveliest, most lonely sound in the world is that of the sea striking the shore.”
Jesse was such an amazing character. There was a tenderness about him that melted my heart. He was considered a slow, mute boy who tended to the grounds of Iverson. Yet, defying all odds, he spoke to Lora right away and was definitely intelligent. He was full of mystery and yet full of answers at the same time. There were so many moments between Lora and Jesse that just grabbed me. He was so sweet, so helpful, and he had his own spot at Lora’s side in the ancient legends. Their relationship was one that bloomed slowly, but was tender and written in the stars.

Lora and Armand had an immediate connection when they met at the train station at the beginning of Lora’s trip to Iverson. Armand was the son of the duke and your typical arrogant aristocrat. His girlfriend was the most petty, conniving, and catty girl by the name of Chloe. Armand was so intrigued by Lora for some reason and he didn’t do a very good job of hiding it, which made Lora a giant target for Chloe’s animosity. Because of Lora’s low station and Armand’s high one, their rumored relationship was closely inspected and judged by Lora’s superiors and added a ton of conflict to an already amazing story.

The synopsis implies a love triangle involving Armand’s character, but it does not play out in any recognizable way. It’s not really a love triangle in any traditional sense. Because the synopsis also mentions that fans of Lauren Kate will enjoy the book, I feel the need to stress that Lora is NOT an immature or petty girl who has two boys she can’t seem to choose between. (No offense, Fallen series, I love you, but you’re kind of annoying in this regard.) I stress this also because while Armand is the sly, slick, and arrogant guy you love to hate and would expect to win the heart of the main heroine, it’s Jesse who gains her attentions and I love this. Finally, the tender guy in charge of guiding her gets to win her heart from the beginning. And it’s just such a good romance.
“Because there—right there living beside you—are monsters of ferocious beauty, ribbony creatures formed of smoke and color and claws.”
The synopsis is pretty vague in regards to what the paranormal aspect of the book is, so I won’t give any details away. It’s definitely unique and captivating and something I have not seen before at all. I love that The Sweetest Dark brought something new to the table. I also enjoyed the setting and time period, which also added a refreshing element to the story. The book wasn’t all modern, boarding school girl drama with love triangles or an annoying focus on romance in the midst of true conflict or anything like that (not that I don’t love those every once in awhile!), but a story that sort of rises above all of that and becomes a beautiful tale.

The Sweetest Dark was simply amazing. It was well written and absolutely beautiful with a story that I truly enjoyed and found utterly enchanting and brand new. I will definitely continue the series and try other series by the author as well. I’m now a fan of her writing style. I highly recommend the book. I think it appeals to fans of YA paranormal romance, adult paranormal romance, historical fiction, and even fantasy. It’s so beautifully written and the story has many different elements to help bridge the gap between various genres. I cannot praise The Sweetest Dark enough.

The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) releases on April 2, 2013.
The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark #2) releases on August 13, 2013.
Both are available for Pre-Order on Amazon.

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