Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

"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.

5 Stars, 1 Flame

Sixteen year old Eleanore, Nora, Jones has no memory before the age of 10. Shy Nora is left in the care of Blisshaven Foundling Home until she begins telling everyone that she can hear the rocks, the iron bars, jewels and the stars singing to her. Then she is transferred to Moor Gate Institution for Socially Afflicted Youth, a really nice name for an insane asylum. After ice baths and electric shock therapy Nora learns not to speak of the voices. She chooses instead to withdraw within herself and try to be as normal as possible in the hopes of being left alone. With the Kaiser's troops nearing England's shores, all the children in London are sent to the countryside for their protection. Unlike the other orphans, Nora is offered a scholarship to an exclusive boarding school, Iverson School for Girls. Upon her arrival she meets Armand, son of Duke of Idylling, and Jesse, groundskeeper and driver. With Armand she feels connected, as if something within her recognizes something in him. But the attraction between Nora and Jesse is instantaneous, though Nora fights it with all her might. But Jesse has a secret, and he knows the answer to Nora's secret. He knows why Nora can hear the stones and stars sing. Nora is a dragon. Unwilling to believe him, Nora flees him, thinking it a cruel joke on an unsuspecting young lady. With much coaxing on Jesse's part, Nora slowly begins to realize that Jesse may be right. He helps her explore her powers, teaching her how to shift into smoke and eventually a dragon. During one of these sessions, Armand discovers Nora just after she changed to smoke. Instead of this transformation deterring him, it intrigues him more, and he feels compelled to learn more about her. All too soon the idyllic days come crashing down to reality and the dangers of German airships and boats is imminent. Three unlikely allies band together to try and stop the war from coming to Iverson, and one young dragon must fight her own internal battle of the heart.

Once again Ms. Abe brings us back to the world of drakkon, this time in the young adult genre. I remember when I found The Smoke Thief and thought this is an awesome author and a unique spin on dragons! Now here I am again, and Ms. Abe has pulled me back into another wonderful story. Nora's story pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Nora is a strong character who is relatable even though she has been through the worst atrocities. While Jesse is the love interest, I was more drawn to Armand. Armand is a more complex character who seems cold and spoiled on the outside, but with hidden depths only Nora sees. I guess I prefer the relationships with more struggle. I will say that the love felt between Jesse and Nora is strong and genuine and the ending of the story about killed me! Ms. Abe's writing evoked such strong emotions in me that I cried. My poor husband thought something had happened and I had to wave my hand and say, between sobs, its the book. Needless to say he did not get it! The Sweetest Dark is now my favorite book by Ms. Abe and I look forward to reading book 2 in the series. 5 stars, 1 Flame

posted by Emily

No comments:

Post a Comment