Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Expected Publication: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Bantam
Age Demographic: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Pages: 352

“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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The Sweetest Dark is a beautifully written suspenseful post-Victorian love story that will leave readers breathless. Shana Abe pens an extraordinary thrilling, exciting adventure filled drama, with brilliant flourishes of magic blended seemlessly throughout the tale. The atmosphere is lush, vibrant, and alive with rich historical vibes coming through. The story told, will pull readers in and captivate them with the gorgeous imagery, beguiling prose, and wonderful drama. This isn't your stereotypical paranormal romance set in motion.

It is wonderous and lush, alive with vivid detail, and crackling with beautiful intensity and vulnerability. The story Shana Abe so wonderfully crafts, is one that will sweep readers off of their feet. It's almost genius, her uncanny ability to tell such a beguiling story so grand and gorgeous, that readers get lost in the world the author has created. It's different, incredibly amazing, and something unlike any other classic paranormal novel, that I've ever read. It's incredibly easy to fall in love with this mystically enchanting dark and bleak world that Abe has created.

Lora is a bit hardened and distant, filled with incredible biting snark and trust issues due to having endured such an awful past. She's such a fantasticlly complicated and complex character, who is extremely fragile beneath her tough exterior. The quiet strength she exudes from beginning to end, is definitely one of the more adirmirable characteristics and traits that I loved about her. The boys are just as wonderfully developed and intriguing as Lora.

The Sweetest Dark is wonderously rich, dark, enchanting love story that will leave readers hearts aching in the aftermath. Written much in a style reminicent of Grimm fairytales, it is filled with gorgeous beguiling essence that will resonate with readers in a truly emotional fashion leaving them pining and gasping for more. It's definitely a must read of the year!



Shana Abé was born in Texas. She spent much of her childhood living in Colorado, with a brief stint in Mexico as a foreign exchange student, and, at age seventeen, lived in Japan as a model. Throughout her childhood, Abé wrote, completing what she calls "The Silliest Romance Novel Ever" during her free time during modeling shoots. Her writing focused on romance, as those were the types of books that she most enjoyed reading.[1] She later attended college in Los Angeles, graduating with a degree in drama.

Her second novel, also a contemporary romance, took third place in a writing contest. She sent the book to several prospective agents, many of which responded with questions similar to "Nice voice — but what line are you writing for?" Unwilling to try to fit her writing into some of the rules that governed contemporary romances, Abé chose to concentrate on historical romances. For her first attempt at a historical romance, the newlywed Abé chose to tell the story of her own romance with her husband, set in medieval times. The manuscript was purchased by Bantam Books and published as A Rose in Winter.

Many of Abé's subsequent novels have also been set in the medieval time period. Abé chose the time period because of its "great sense of dichotomy....It inspires thoughts of grandeur, of courtly grace and chivalrous knights — but at the same time there's a gritty, raw aspect to the period that just cannot be denied."

Abé has received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and has been nominated six times for Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards, winning twice.


  1. I really enjoyed this one, as well! That ending absolutely broke my heart in a great many ways, but still a solid, wonderful read. You wrote about it so beautifully. :)

    1. Aw, I'm really glad that you liked it. That ending, just absolutely broke me in many wonderful ways. *hugs* Thank you, so much for the lovely compliments. I always love seeing you around my blog!

  2. The writing is lovely and evocative. Abe does a fantastic job of creating ambience without being overly wordy. The storyline is interesting and the narrative is compelling—I ordered the sequel before I finished this book because I can't wait to see where the story goes.


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