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.
It’s been awhile since I have reviewed a YA paranormal romance for BT. It’s the genre I enjoy reading the most. If you haven’t read a YA paranormal romance book in a long time, or maybe didn’t think it would be something you would enjoy, I truly believe that this series should be an exception. Shana Abe has such a beautiful, colorful, and detailed writing style that you can’t help falling in love with this story.
Despite the fact that our heroine, Eleanore Jones, is an orphan, I still related to her, because she is strong, witty and self-reliant. She did everything in her power, which was difficult because of her station, to stay true to herself. She has powers that she doesn’t understand until she meets Jesse.
At the age of twelve, I realized the songs were coming from the high stone wall surrounding the Home. From the metal rings and keys of the matrons who walked the halls with their nightsticks. From the pale, blazing diamond fixed in the stickpin the Home’s director, Mr. H. W. Forrester, wore in his necktie every single day.
From even the distant stars.
They weren’t the worst of it, though. The worst was the voice. The one that seemed centered not inside my head, but instead just exactly inside my heart.
It was cunning and fiendish, whispering the maddest things: That it was natural that gemstones would sing to me. That it was good to hate the Home, with its dull walls and dull boiled turnips and dull spiteful girls who openly scorned me, who tripped me in the hallways and dipped my plaits into ink pots during our few hours of schooling.
The heart-voice would say things like, Smite them. Tear them apart. I won’t let you alone until you are who you are.
And I wanted to. I was trapped and friendless, and if I’d had the slightest notion of how to smite anything, I bloody well might have.
I grew up considered by one and all to be peculiar at best, aloof at least, and most likely destined for the streets the day I turned seventeen, since even the factories had standards for hiring.
Can you imagine living with the fact that every adult around you thinks that you’re crazy? Eleanore finds some relief when she is given the blessed opportunity to go to Iverson, an all-girls school.
Toby Regbo is my Jesse
From the moment she sees Jesse Holms, she knows that he is different, and is drawn to him. The relationship they develop is unique in that he is the reason for her being there, and his job is to protect and guide her. That doesn’t mean that they can control the attraction between them, and even though she is considered lower class, she still can’t reveal her relationship with the stable boy, who up until meeting her, was mute. He understands her though, like no one else can.
“It’s hard, isn’t it? He said.
“Being here. Being around all of them. Knowing that none of them, not one, has ever known what it’s like to go with out.”
Because the Duke of Idylling is responsible for her scholarship at Iverson, his son Armand Louis takes notice of Eleanore immediately. He is so beyond Eleanore’s station or class that any conversation with him is looked upon as troublesome at best. What I love about their developing relationship that they banter back and forth despite the unspoken rules that they should be following.
There was no question Lord Armand was handsome. I’d seen that last night, right up close. Yet I thought now that handsome wasn’t truly the best word to describe him. Behind the wind-disheveled hair and burning blue gaze lurked a complexity not easily captured by words. Even from a distance, he struck me as deeper, darker, than those obvious good looks suggested. Like the hidden red glint inside a clouded ruby, visible only by holding the stone just right; if you don’t know the trick, all you ever saw was deceptive shadow.
The first book definitely focuses on this unusual love triangle, and that might seem common in YA books, but this book’s storyline is uniquely perfect that I wanted to root for all three characters. If you have read The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, you will understand and appreciate this kind of love triangle.
The secondary characters, like Sophia and even Chloe, make the storyline stronger. Neither girl will let you forget her, even when they aren’t necessarily around.
But how could I not love Eleanore the most, when she loves books and reading as much as I do…
Books had always been my lifeline.
Fiction or fact, it hardly mattered; books transported me beyond my own mental borders. Maybe they even helped preserve my sanity. What there was of it.
I could include more incredible excerpts, but that would silly right? I feel like I should warn you though that the ending was heart-breaking, and I may have embarrassed myself in my lunchroom at work, because I quietly shed tears.
I just love being moved like that by books though.
The Darkest Night by Shana Abe
A rich portrait of post-Victorian England, The Deepest Night seamlessly blends thrilling romance with riveting history and adventure—perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Lauren Kate.
It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.
As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.
Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.
With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.
Beautifully written, deeply romantic, and filled with daring adventure and magic, The Deepest Night is a mesmerizing novel of the enduring pull of destiny, and the eternal strength of love.
As much as I loved the first book, the second book…It just blew me away. Shana really steps up the action and UST in this one.
Instead of being sent away to another orphanage in Scotland, Armand makes the decision to keep Eleanore at Tranquility, his father’s home, under the guise of her being a nurse’s aid.
The room I’d been given was grand and echoing, just as posh as I might have predicted. It was the kind of room that Sophia or Chloe likely would feel right home in, but for me, it was just big, strange, and dark. I’d left the nearest set of curtains agape to allow in a sliver of sapphire glow; but for that hint of light, I might as well have been stranded in the middle of the blackest ocean.
A minnow in the ebony whale of my bed, curled up small in its center.
I did not belong here. Yet I had stepped right into the role Armand had created for me, and thus, I knew, into his and Jesse’s plan. I would pretend to nurse sick men and I would pretend to be a normal girl who did not transform into anything else, certainly not a monster, and I would pretend I wasn’t a coward who didn’t want to do any of those things.
Armand or Mandy is definitely growing on me, and while Jesse was my favorite in the first book, I can’t help letting Mandy into my heart. He truly puts himself out there for Eleanore, and has a transformation himself. He wears his heart on his sleeve, when most men at that time do not. He also has his own mysterious past.
“You deserve someone who loves you without conditions. Who would never look at another woman for the rest of his life with anything but indifference, because you are the sum of his dreams. The one girl whose eyes shine with all of the days and nights he prays will come. His stars and his sun and his moon. His happiness, his true heart. His everything.”
She gazed up at him, her lips trembling. “Is that it? Is that how you feel about her?”
“Yes,” he said, and dropped his hands.
Rather than talk about everything that happens in this book, because it’s such an exciting ride, I’m just going to say this. I completely adored everything about this book. The characters. The writing style. The storyline. The action. The romance. Everything about this series is why I read YA paranormal romance and love it.
Here are a couple more favorite passages/lines:
— Is there a more powerful tool of seduction for the lonely than that of common ground?
— I felt the sun wanting to rise right as we neared the end of our passage over the sea. It was a peculiar sensation, a building, bulging pressure against the eastern horizon, like a giant on the other side of the world pressing his fist against the thin glazing of night.
There will be a third book coming out, but there isn’t a title and release date yet. The Darkest Night does end without a cliffhanger. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be jumping on the last book the moment it’s available. I am truly attached to Eleanore, Jesse and Armand now.
***I was given an advanced copy of The Darkest Night from Netgalley to honestly review. The excerpts are from that copy.***
I give both books 5 magical and haunting stars, and put them on my “books that own me” and “top shelf fantastic reads” on Goodreads.