The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé was an unexpected delight. The blend of dragons, stars, World War I, and finishing school was just a blast to read. I definitely didn’t realize The Sweetest Dark was so heavy on the fantasy, but it showed me just how much I can love historical fantasy if it contains the same elements I like in my typical fantasy selections. It has been several books since I excitedly used ever spare minute to read, so it was a relief to have that feeling again thanks to The Sweetest Dark. Oh and the cover totally makes sense, it’s not just a girl in a prom dress, it’s a girl with smoke around her >.>. (I’m not actually being sarcastic, it does make complete sense.)
Note: I purchased The Sweetest Dark after winning its sequel through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé (The Sweetest Dark #1)
Published by Bantam on April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA
Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Book Depository - Goodreads
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“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.
- I’ve read a lot of dragon books, but The Sweetest Dark managed to surprised and entrance me with a new dragon lore and magic. When I say stars, I mean the actual stars in the sky play a major role in The Sweetest Dark and it was awesome!
- The writing of The Sweetest Dark struck me as lyrical and soothing. After I finished this one, I just sat for a bit and soaked in the content feelings it left me with.
- Incorporating World War I into a fantasy novel was awesome. Because the kids are off at school, they are insulated from a lot of the war, but it still manages to have some big impacts on the story. It was just the right dose of historical setting for me.
- I loved the devotion that Lora has for the romantic interest (can’t give it away!). There are a lot of protagonists that seem to fall in and out of love a little too easily, so finding a set that embody that deeper definition of love was a relief.
- The magic system includes a weird set of must-loves and commands (in two different directions though). While the characters seemed quite content to love each other, something about them not actually having a choice and one of them being able to command the other didn’t sit well with me. This also meant that the love happened fairly quickly, though tolerable for me.
- There are some hints at a love triangle…. The Deepest Night better not disappoint me!
The Sweetest Dark swept me off my feet with the sense of beauty and wonder that it instilled. I was so excited to find out more about the magic, and the characters, and the war, and and and… everything! While the pacing was more soothing than edge-of-your-seat, I found myself eager to keep reading because I didn’t want to leave Lora’s world. I’m so happy that I have an advanced copy of the second book so that I can dive right back in!
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé
© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.