The Sweetest Dark | Shana Abe | Book Review

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.

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe | Good Books And Good Wine

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.”

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Eyerollably written books are NEVER good. That just takes away far too much from the reading experience because it instigates LESS interest and investment. And I HATE when that happens. Sucks to see a book with so much potential come out to be so silly in so many areas.

    I don’t feel too bad, though, because I only paid attention to this book for the cover. I don’t feel guilty that I won’t be giving it a fair shot 😀

    • I can be okay with eye-rolling if I like a lot of the other things. But, I agree that it’s hard to get invested when I am thinking to myself LOLOL come on.

      Awww, I do feel bad about dissuading people from reading it — it’s not AWFUL per se, just I rolled my eyes a lot ha ha.

  2. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about ornately written books and I’m still interested in giving this one a shot because DRAGONS and I’ve been craving some boarding school stories lately. I can already feel the love triangle prickling at me though as neither guy sounds remotely appealing.

    • I can get behind that — trying to figure out your feelings about a book’s style. Dragons are SO cool and the boarding school aspect is cool too, so I’d say give The Sweetest Dark a try because you might like it. Yeah, the love triangle sucks.

  3. Sorry you didn’t like the book. The last book I read had a love triangle, and it bothered me, too. Sometimes they’re done right and great, but I definitely agree that the trend is getting old! I must say, though, that this book has a beautiful cover!

    • See, I like when love triangles are done right — like I can be more easy going about them, but mostly I am just fatigued of them.

      The cover IS gorgeous! I love all the purple.

  4. Like you, there are so many things about this book that would appeal to me, particularly the boarding school element and the dragons! But I do hate it when books are too (unnecessarily) descriptive, and when the story falls into a pattern of cheesiness. So I think I may hold off on this one!

    • Don’t get me wrong, I like descriptions but I think with The Sweetest Dark it was just a little too much, ya know?

      And yeah, lol, maybe I have a low threshold for cheesy but I was definitely rolling my eyes at different bits.

  5. This book was SUPER cheesy. Like, I could not even handle the cheesy. I keep thinking lame ass love triangle-focused books like this will freaking stop at some point, but no.

    Don’t forget how Armand went by Mandy. *shudders* Just no. They were both awful.

    There were a few bits of her writing I liked, but mostly it was just dripping with sap. Ugh.

    It’s a sad day when you can point to Firelight as a better written, more logical dragon book. X_X

    • Me too, I keep waiting for the trend to pass — but I feel like for some, it is a way to force some sexual tension on the story.

      LOL every time they called him Mandy, I thought of that song from White Christmas.

      Yahhhh all sap.

      LOL I actually really liked Firelight, so there’s that.

  6. Awww, sorry this one was a bit of a disappointment. The Sweetest Dark has been on my radar for awhile, but I think I am going to push it to the bottom of my TBR list. First, I really have little (okay, NO) patience for love triangles. I just can’t relate.

    And then the purple prose – yech. I like these romance novels by Andrea Kane, but sometimes the dialog is ridiculous. I can’t imagine people talking like that (ever back in the 1800s). So I am pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy the writing in The Sweetest Dark.

    Thanks for the review!

    • I am glad it’s not entirely removed from your TBR, but yeah The Sweetest Dark is definitely not a book I’d recommend prioritizing.

      See, I can handle ridiculous dialogue if other things I like are there, but for the most part I can’t get past the cheesy.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  7. Thanks for weeding out this book for me. I don’t like cheesy language and I can’t stand love triangles, so this one is clearly not for me! It is so disappointing when comparisons to other authors don’t pan out – I try to ignore them for that reason alone.

  8. Purple Prose? Cheesy writing? Weak love triangle? That really unfortunate. The premise seemed so interesting. Generally, I don’t mind love triangles. If they’re done well (like The Madman’s Daughter) then I actually like the tension and drama it can bring to the story. But I have to at least like both of them on some level. I don’t like classic sappy protectors and I can never understand why girls are into jerks. Thanks for the review.

    • Right? The premise is MAD cool and so the way it all played out kind of sucked.

      I love that you bring up The Madman’s Daughter — I wasn’t a huge fan of the triangle, but I did love that book.

      Yeah, I am way more into female characters being able to protect themselves.

      Thanks so much for commenting, Kim!

  9. “If you are into interesting heroines, don’t mind love triangles and can get past cheesy writing” – Not gonna lie, this reminded me of a line from Lemony Snickett! I’ve got this one to read from NetGalley, and I’m excited about it, but not holding my breath that it’s anywhere near Libba Bray!


  1. […] The Sweetest Dark from Good Books and Good Wine (YA) […]