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Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: 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. 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.

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I've been a fan of Shana Abe's adult romance novels for years, so when I discovered she was writing a Young Adult novel along the lines of her Drakon books, I was intrigued. So far, every YA novel I've read written by a adult romance novelist has been fantastic. I've noticed that many of these authors are able to tone down the sexiness enough so that it's appropriate for younger audiences, while still smoldering. In addition, many of these crossover authors write romance with a plot, so they're actually able to write a good story, despite the lack of sex. Abe is no exception and I'm definitely a fan.


Abe's Drakon novels feature characters that look like humans, but have the ability to shift into the shape of dragons. Fans of Sophie Jordan know that she is also a crossover adult romance author that writes YA novels featuring dragon shapeshifters. While these two sets of novels feature distinct similarities, the history and paranormal aspects definitely different. Abe's Drakon lore is firmly established due to her adult Drakon novels, so I doubt that readers will find the similarities troubling. Instead, I hope that fans of other shapeshifter novels, like Jordan's, will embrace The Sweetest Dark.


I will admit, The Sweetest Dark is a bit slow, but, since I genuinely enjoyed the characters, I didn't mind that the action was a bit lacking. Plus, this is only the first book and I fully anticipate the next to take things to the next level, especially after the intensity of this installment's ending. And, while Abe only touched on the paranormal aspects and the powers of the Drakon in this first book, having read her adult series dealing with the Drakon, I know that we can expect some pretty amazing things in the upcoming books.


Another aspect that I wasn't a huge fan of was the love triangle... primarily due to the fact that I wasn't a fan of one of Lora's possible matches. Armand is not my type of guy, but, with any luck, readers will see another side of him in book two. I feel like this is a very likely scenario and I look forward to seeing how Abe spins his sour disposition from book one.


Part of me wants to recommend that those of you are interested in reading The Sweetest Dark when it releases in August check out Abe's three adult novels that focus on the Drakon. Though I did enjoy this novel and I'll definitely reading any subsequent books, I don't know if it showcases just how strong Abe's writing can be. And, if you're interested in more of the history regarding the Drakon, you can find it in The Smoke Thief, The Dream Thief, and Queen of Dragons.


I'm glad to see another romance novelist try her hand at the YA genre... I think readers will enjoy this latest shapeshifter novel with it's historical elements and romance.

Random House Publishing Group, August 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780345531704, 352 pages.

4 comments:

  1. I've had this on my to-read list for a while, but I have't seen many reviews on it so it was nice to finally read one.
    Great review. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've had this on my to-read list for a while, but I have't seen many reviews on it so it was nice to finally read one.
    Great review. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't really mind slow books as long as the story is solid. I LOVE Sophie Jordan's books both adult and YA and so I will totally give The Sweetest Dark a shot. Great review, Sara!

    ReplyDelete

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