Early Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

Early Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Release date: April 2, 2013
Book provided by Edelweiss and Random House

Synopsis from Goodreads:
“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.

AH’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-

“Those nights, in the sweetest dark, we shared our dreams.”

I’ve always been fascinated by dragons. The dragon is one of the most fearsome yet regal of all the fantasy creatures. To me, dragons evoke strength, power, and wealth. There’s a lot to be said for a dragon’s ability to find and hoard shiny – read valuable – objects. The idea of a race of dragon shifters called The Drakon living amongst humans has always intrigued me. Shana Abe’s Drakon series is one of my favorite depictions of the dragon shifter.

The Sweetest Dark is the start of a new series that takes place in her Drakon world. Unlike the Drakon series, The Sweetest Dark can be read as both an adult and a young adult novel. There is no need to read the Drakon series prior to reading The Sweetest Dark. This book can be read as a standalone book.

As I read The Sweetest Dark, certain aspects stood out for me. First of all, Ms. Abe’s writing is both elegant and beautiful. Her descriptions evoke all of the senses. I especially liked how the author wrote the dream sequences. It really felt as if I were flying as I read. Other dream sequences were sensual without becoming sexually explicit. Beautifully done.

The world of The Sweetest Dark was intriguing. I loved that it was set in a castle-like girls’ school complete with turrets and secret tunnels. I also liked the fact that the book was set in during World War I.

I enjoyed all of the characters and I liked how they interacted with each other. Eleanor (Lora) acts as a narrator for most of the book. She doesn’t really know what she is but she has several interesting talents: she has an affinity for music and she “hears” gemstones and gold singing to her. She is even able to tell the carat weight of gems. In a way, she could be seen as a synesthetic.

There is a bit of a love triangle as two boys vie for Lora’s attentions. Both Armand and Jesse are smitten by Lora but in different ways. Jesse and Lora had a nice connection but I think I enjoyed the banter between Lora and Armand more.

The Sweetest Dark is the perfect fantasy read. If you enjoy dragon shifter books, The Sweetest Dark may be right for you. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series The Deepest Night which should be available in August 2013.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Highly recommended.

Series Reading Order:

1. The Sweetest Dark – Release date April 2, 2013
2. The Deepest Night – Release date August 13, 2013

Thank you to Edelweiss and Random House for a review copy of this book.

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