I have a different relationship with Shana Abe‘s Drakon books. I loved the first one, but things were hit and miss for me for the next four. So when it came time to decide if I was going to try her new YA spin-off series, I was a bit up in the air. I have been limiting my blind buys, especially since I found myself less than impressed with quite a few of the young adult titles I have bought lately. Long story short, I finally broke down and ordered The Sweetest Dark, still not expecting much.
I was wrong.
The Sweetest Dark was a total surprise. It is a quiet story, if that makes any sense – very character driven, without a ton of action and conflict, and very different from many of the YA novels out there. The tone was more mature, and while there is the dreaded love triangle it is like no other love triangle I have ever read, and it wasn’t the focus of the story. It reads more like a fantasy with romantic elements, if anything.
The story revolves around Eleanor Jones. Since the moment she was found wandering the streets as a child, with no memory of who she was or where she came from, she has known she was different. Raised in a harsh, cold London orphanage in the early 1900′s, life was not easy for Lora. Not only did she have to learn to survive having no one and nothing to call her own, she also had to learn how to hide the unique abilities that set her apart from everyone else. When the first World War threatens London, Lora finds herself sent as a charity case to a prestigious boarding school on England’s coast. This new world is filled with the daughters of the wealthy and privileged, neither of which describes Lora, and she is not allowed to forget that she does not belong.
It is here, at this school, that Lora meets two very different boys with secrets of their own. Sweet, quiet and unassuming Jesse holds the answers that Lora has been searching for her whole life, while rich, brash Armand struggles with demons of his own. The three of them are drawn together almost by fate, and while you never are in doubt about who Lora loves, you are left guessing right up to the end about how things will turn out for them. And let’s just say, I didn’t see that ending coming.
I thought that The Sweetest Dark was very well written, with great characters that didn’t feel overdone or stereo-typical, and I was very pleased with how Shana Abe re-worked her Drakon world for a new time and place. This was my first YA set during this time, and the looming threat of WWI made for a great atmosphere. I do have to say, it stood out in the ever-growing sea of paranormal YA.
God, I can ramble. Basically, what I am trying to say is that The Sweetest Dark was different, well written, and I liked it. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely caught my attention and didn’t let go. Has anyone else tried this new series, or do you have it on your radar? It makes for a nice change of pace, and a great break from the same old, same old. Now, I just have to wait for August to get my hands on the second book, The Deepest Night. And believe me, I have no hesitation this time around.