TITLE: The Sweetest Dark
SERIES: The Sweetest Dark #1
AUTHOR: Shana Abe
PUBLICATION DATE: April 2, 2013
PUBLISHER: Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group
PAGES: 352 pages
RATING: 4 stars
Eleanore Jones has never been normal, no matter how much she tries to be. For as long as she can remember, metals have sung to her and there has been a dark voice whispering for her to do bad things. As a child, she made the mistake of admitting these things to adults which got her time in a psych ward with more than one treatment round of electro shock. Now she’s determined that if she can’t be completely normal, she will fake it as believably as possible. When the war starts and the majority of the population gets out of London, her orphanage sends her to Iverson’s, a high class boarding school, because she has been selected as the new charity student. Once there, Eleanore meets Jesse, the grounds keeper and feels an instant attraction to him. She also meets Armand, an arrogant aristocrat who may just be hiding the same secrets she is.
I decided to sleep on it before I wrote this review and I’m still at a loss for words….except the constant whine in my brain to go ahead and read the sequel (which I have a eARC of) instead of reading what’s next on my reading schedule. This is one of those novels that while I really enjoyed it, I’m not exactly sure what I liked. It has all the elements I hate, instalove, love triangle, bad ending, but somehow I still liked it.
I liked all three of the main characters. Eleanore has that tough girl image from being in an orphanage for most of her life and when the snooty girls start to fuck with her, she fights back, giving back exactly what’s she given instead of taking it. I loved that she was always battling with the idea that maybe she really was just crazy and everything was all in her head. Jesse stole my heart right from the beginning. Charming and sweet, he’s definitely the silent type. In fact, everyone believes he is mute. He says he only talks to people worth speaking to and that basically amounts to 2 people at the school. Armand is a whole other can of worms. The son of a duke, he’s lived a charmed life, but really he’s just as lonely as Eleanore and he’s so adept at lying no one notices. While I wanted Eleanore to be with Jesse, I did feel a lot of compassion for Armand. I know book 2 is going to take the love triangle to now, annoying, heights, but I still really want to read it. The only other character I loved was Sophia. Clever Sophia is the only girl at Iversons that actually comes to like Eleanore and I feel like we don’t get to see enough of her. She pops up a few times to help and then vanishes and I kept wishing to see more of her.
The story was interesting, if a bit slow. I read more for the fantasy elements, than for the historical ones. I’m not a big fan of novels about war. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the cause or that I have a problem with gore, it’s just not a subject that interests me. So, while I understand the bits about the war were necessary for world and plot building, I was definitely not enraptured by them. This novel took me by surprise with the ending, which I didn’t see coming. But I can’t talk about the ending without ranting and I am desperately trying not to do that with this review.
****SPOILER****Okay, so maybe a tiny one. JESSE DIES. I’m not talking he dies and then some part of his supernaturalness brings him back, I mean he is dead and they bury him. Then you get a tiny epilogue saying that he is with the stars now and one day Eleanore will join him. Great, so I’ll have to deal with Armand and Eleanore getting all lovey in book 2. ::sobs::****END SPOILER***
This novel really has a ton of good things in it. You get enough mystery to keep you interested, tiny bits of humor to make you laugh, enough boy drama to have you rolling your eyes, and an ending that you’ll never expect.
****Thank you to Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****