There are quite a few elements that I absolutely love to read about: dragons, historical fiction, boarding schools, and romance. The Sweetest Dark by romance writer Shana Abe contains these elements, yet it did not entirely deliver on it’s interesting premise. I felt that this young adult book was bogged down by very cheesy writing, thus not living up to it’s potential.
Lora, an orphan, is found mysteriously wandering around London at the age of 10 with no memory of her previous life. She is sent to live in an orphanage. While at the orphanage, a mysterious voice tells her to jump out the window, which then lands Lora in a mental asylum. Meanwhile World War I is raging on. As London is not safe, Lora luckily wins a scholarship to the elite Iverson boarding school on the coast of London. Unfortunately, her wealthy classmates do not take a liking to her. However, Lora catches the eyes of groundskeeper Jesse and the aristocrat Armand. A love triangle plays out in this boarding school setting while Lora tries to unravel her Drakon heritage.
Lora is actually a pretty interesting heroine. She has gumption and does not take mistreatment lying down. She is also quite intellectually curious, given her awful upbringing in the orphanage. I quite liked reading about Lora discovering her Drakon heritage and coming into her powers — which also involve a bit of a sacrifice. She’s someone I can respect in that she keeps her head held high and her pride in tact despite the taunts of her classmates. Lora was not at all a weak heroine, except when it came to the romance bits of The Sweetest Dark.
Unfortunately, where The Sweetest Dark lost me was with the love triangle. Lora has intense connections with both Jesse and Armand for different reasons, that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil you. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for either of her love interests. One was a total protector and super sappy — and I felt that he made Lora seem a bit weak. The other love interest was a jerk to Lora and haughty and insulting toward her.
I, personally, was not a huge fan of the writing style. To me, it felt a bit like purple prose – meaning the writing was overly flowery. The descriptions within The Sweetest Dark are over the top ornate and I would have liked it more, had it been dialed back a bit. Typically I love romance and kissing scenes, but those bits within this book made me roll my eyes.
If you are into interesting heroines, don’t mind love triangles and can get past cheesy writing, then you should definitely check out The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe if it appeals to you. The plotting is pretty good. However, if you’re really just interested in the dragon-people aspect, then I would recommend you read Firelight by Sophie Jordan instead as it is more well-written. Unfortunately, The Sweetest Dark was a bit of a disappointment to me, but I wouldn’t tell you do not read this book. If it sounds up your alley, I say go for but don’t walk in expecting the writing to be similar to Libba Bray, as mentioned in the official publisher blurb.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine
Other reviews of The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe:
A Reader Of Fictions – “It definitely falls into the category of really weird books.”
Candace’s Book Blog – “This was so much perfection within it’s pages that I nearly cried at the beauty”
Read Breathe Relax – “Abe’s writing is filled with so much emotion.”