Thursday 16 August 2012

EARLY REVIEW: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

Publication Date:August 21st 2012
Publisher:Random House Publishing Group
Edition:Hardcover, 352 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

“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 Dark was a surprise for me. And a pleasant one at that! As soon as I started reading it, I couldn't put it down and I kept making mental notes of all the things I liked about it.

And what I liked the most was hands down the setting and the writing style. Abe writes in such a lyrical and magical way that I kept turning my pages wanting to know what happens next. The way she describes Lora's life at the orphanage, at the clinic and at Iverson later was just amazing. The era she chose to set her story just complimented everything. Because setting a magical story full of colors and music in the midst of World War I was such a perfect contrast that had me hooked from the first page. I mean the way Abe described Lora's treatment in the clinic at the same page where she describes the songs she hears from gem stones was genius for me.

It's no secret that I love historical fiction. Something about the whole setting fascinates me beyond imagination. Add to that era a totally fresh paranormal element and you get why I loved The Sweetest Dark so much! Well, the paranormal aspect itself isn't that fresh, even if it's the first book about dragons I read, but it's not an overused one either. So to me, it was pure freshness! And the way the magic was all over the story, it was the center point of the whole plot but at the same time it didn't overshadow everything else, was another part I really liked.

The descriptions of Lora and her relationship with the rest of students at Iverson was another thing I really enjoyed. I loved all the dynamics between all those girls and reading about their interactions was another favorite part of the story. Lora is a strong, full of love and compassion character, smart and the way she spoke her mind and rose above her classmates' insults just made me love her.

But, despite all the things I liked about The Sweetest Dark, I strongly believe that it could have been so, so much better... The potential was there, and even though this one isn't a bad novel, not by a long shot, it still missed some things that could have easily made it a mindblowing one.

For starters, even if I wasn't bored or tired while reading, I still believe that more things could have happened. To put it simply, not much happens. Most of the story centers around Lora transforming to smoke, rather than to a dragon and there's not much happening actionwise either. It was a bit flat. Not boring, at least for me, but a bit flat. As flat was the romantic plot I'm afraid... I couldn't feel the connection between Lora and Jesse, not for the love of me.

Everything happened way too quickly between them and Lora took for granted everything he said to her way too easily. From a moment on, I just took for granted their relationship but I couldn't feel a spark between them. A spark that I could easily feel between Lora and Armand though. Not that Jesse was a bad character or one I didn't like, on the contrary, I just felt that the romance between them was a bit forced.

All in all, The Sweetest Dark was a novel I truly enjoyed but in the end of the day I feel that it could have been much better. Because in most departments it was more than good. And the potential is all there. Should a sequel be written, I would totally read it :)

* This title was reviewed via Edelweiss


  1. I read this book and liked it as well. Quite different than what I normally read. Loved the ending. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was quite different for me too Savannah. And I loved this book more for this reason alone.

  2. Great review, I have read some of her adult books a long time ago, and I do love her writing style. I like reading about dragons. Not sure if it is not filled with much action.


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