The Sweetest Dark by Shana AbeThe Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark

byShana Abe

Hardcover | June 3, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 95 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“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.

Praise for The Sweetest Dark
“A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely
“Abé creates a rich and refreshing world.”—RT Book Reviews (four stars)
“Abe’s writing is both elegant and beautiful . . . The Sweetest Dark is the perfect fantasy read.”—Badass Book Reviews
“Strong and spellbinding.”—Genre Go Round Reviews
Shana Abé is the author of The Time Weaver, The Treasure Keeper, Queen of Dragons, The Dream Thief, and The Smoke Thief.
Title:The Sweetest DarkFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8.57 × 5.8 × 1.16 inShipping dimensions:8.57 × 5.8 × 1.16 inPublished:June 3, 2015Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345531701

ISBN - 13:9780345531704


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Original & Fresh This is such a beautifully written story that hit me hard with its melancholy end. Abe put so much heart and detail into this book and it shows in the characters and the setting. It can't be easy to take the fantasy and putting it into a historical setting, especially when that time and place is England during WWI. The entire book was started off with a Prologue that set up many questions and basically set the tone for much of the novel, along with periodic letters throughout the read. Beautiful, unique and simply addictive there was so much to love. I am kind of a secret addict when it comes to historical fiction, especially when you add a fantasy element. The best part is that Abe did a fantastic job weaving the realistic 1915 into something that holds the unimaginable. While bombing and air raids are a constant fear the simple setting of Iverson boarding school is perfect. I was entranced as Lora was with the gorgeous gothic castle that seems to bring about so much that could never have been expected. Along with the castle you have the forest, the cliffs that surround the island and the tides that go in and out making it only possible to reach the island at certain times unless you use the bridge. All around the setting was beautiful and served its purpose for everything that the characters needed to learn and use to fulfill their destiny's. Lora quite simply was a well designed character. Hiding her differences was really only a piece of her problems because lets face it hearing music from anonymous objects in 1915 is really not a good thing. Though I felt she really was not written to her full potential to start, it was no fault of the author because how do you execute a character perfectly when they can not be what they are meant to be. However eventually she started to become what she was meant to and then her strength shone through. This is not a girl that was raised with privilege but someone that had to fight for what she wanted and her differences are really what saved her. I think that I enjoyed Lora not because I related to her but because I felt invested in her by the end. Personally when there is not a lot to relate to with a character, I tend to disconnect from but something saved Lora and I'm not quite sure what it was exactly. There is hints at a love triangle and when I had read reviews prior to reading this I worried. I am a lover and a hater of the love triangle and they have to be executed so perfectly now for me to enjoy them (there is a few that I feel in love with before that irritate me but I'm addicted so I look past it). Abe did not create a triangle per say but added someone that could create one. There was an attraction between Lora and Jesse that was so much stronger than physical but I think more than that he brought out the best in her while helping her reach her true potential. With Armand I guess there was a certain amount of attraction but Lora remained firm to her devotion and original feelings for Jesse no matter what happened. I am okay with two guys fighting for her but when it comes down to it only one really having the chance. Though I thought I had an idea of how it would end I wasn't prepared to be so wrong. The end turned out to be completely heart wrenching and almost brought me to tears. Abe created a beautiful but tragic end to this book that was fitting, poetic but sad all the same. With such beautiful writing and an original story featuring a mythical creature that has yet to be fully explored or overdone, The Sweetest Dark was just what I was looking for. A poetic story that reads almost like a true fairytale without the happily ever after, I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a read that is original and fresh.
Date published: 2013-07-24

Read from the Book

These are a few of the secrets kept from me until my sixteenth year: That planets had spun and turned themselves out of their orbits to aid in my conception. That magma from the heart of the earth had speared through choking rock channels, stealing carbon and diamonds for me, jetting high to fall and die upon the surface of the world in a celebration of lava and flame. That the moon had slowed for my birth, and the sun had blinked, and the stars had created a celestial new chorus from my name. When I was a child, everyone believed that I was an ordinary human girl. Even I believed it, which shows you how little I knew. I looked almost like a regular girl, though. Maybe one who was paler than normal, a little thinner, a touch more swift to react to sudden sounds or bright lights. My eyes are gray. Not the gray of a sullen sky or sea but the unlikely lavender-gray of a nimbus surrounding a winter moon, colors both opaque and translucent at once. My hair seems brown. It’s such a light brown that it’s almost the color of nothing, but that’s a trick, one I can’t control. Depending upon the hour of the day and the aspect of the clouds, my hair shines any color from fawn to pale pink to gold. In the month of February, in the year 1909, I had been found wandering aimlessly along the streets of one of the most massive cities ever built by man: London. I was starving, alone, and ten years of age. I’d been noticed first by a team of pickpockets—but there was nothing on me to steal, not a farthing or even a modest silver chain—then by a pair of prostitutes, who only eyed me up and down. Finally a tinker showed me some mercy, guiding me toward a constable before melting off down an alleyway. I could not speak. I had no words to describe my situation, only my stare, which most of the grown men at the station avoided within seconds. I think they found it far less uncomfortable to study the barren walls of the station house or gaze out the grimy windows. They gave me a blanket, an eel pie from a vendor, and a mug of gin. I claimed a spot on the floor behind the main desk and fell asleep. Eleven hours later, since no one in the parish of St. Giles had come forward to claim me, I was handed over to the local orphanage, a miserable well of scrubbed faces and forsaken souls. St. Giles was a knot of blighted streets and crumbling buildings. The relentless odor of gin and beer mingled with the constant stench of rotting garbage, and the unwelcome offspring there were as common as dirt. As the fifth anonymous child abandoned to the Blisshaven Foundling Home so far that year, I was assigned the name Eleanore, surname Jones. Gradually—no one even noticed when or how—Eleanore evolved into Lora, which became the name I answered to. Lora Jones. Speech returned in stages. Little words first, popping past my lips. Pie. Blood. Comet. Then bigger ones. Steamship. Regina. Aria, gemstone, field gun, museum. To the astonishment of the proprietors of Blisshaven, I shaped every word with the sort of precise, lilting intonation that indicated I might have just stepped foot from the king’s court—or so I overheard them mutter. I couldn’t explain it; I couldn’t prevent it. That was simply how I spoke. And for all my elegant words, I never once told anyone where I’d come from or mentioned any second of my life before the day the tinker had found me. I didn’t remember. I really didn’t. Yet there were some things that did come back to me, a few basic things. Arithmetic, reading, writing—someone from the misty veil of my past had taught me that much. I would chase the discarded sheets of the dailies that blew into the courtyard of the orphanage, clutching each page close to my face, devouring the printed words as eagerly as if they were that delicious hot pie and cold gin I’d once consumed on the floor of the constables’ station. Like all the orphans crowding the Home, I felt certain that I did not belong where I was. That someone, somewhere, was surely searching for me, because I was special. Unlike all the rest of the orphans, I was right. ... I began to hear things. Elusive noises, pretty sounds no one else seemed to perceive. As I grew older, they blossomed into full melodies. Snippets of song followed me about, trailing my every step. Even when I cupped my hands hard over my ears, I couldn’t stop the notes from seeping around my fingers, tickling the inside of my head. That would drive anyone barmy, wouldn’t it? At the age of twelve, I realized the songs were coming from the high stone wall surrounding the Home. From the metal rings and keys of the matrons who walked the halls with their nightsticks. From the pale, blazing diamond fixed in the stickpin the Home’s director, Mr. H. W. Forrester, wore in his necktie every single day. From even the distant stars. They weren’t the worst of it, though. The worst was the voice. The one that seemed centered not inside my head but instead just exactly inside my heart. It was cunning and fiendish, whispering the maddest things: That it was natural that gemstones would sing to me. That it was good to hate the Home, with its dull walls and dull boiled turnips and dull spiteful girls who openly scorned me, who tripped me in the hallways and dipped my plaits into ink pots during our few hours of schooling. The heart-voice would say things like, Smite them. Tear them apart. I won’t let you alone until you are who you are. And I wanted to. I was trapped and friendless, and if I’d had the slightest notion of how to smite anything, I bloody well might have. I grew up considered by one and all to be peculiar at best, aloof at least, and most likely destined for the streets the day I turned seventeen, since even the factories had standards for hiring. None of them knew that each black night, long after they themselves had curled into their dreams, I would steal from my bed to perch upon the sill of the window close by, my no-color hair a slippery curtain against my back. I would press my palms flat against the glass and gaze down at the cobblestone courtyard below, four long stories below, and puzzle over the fiend in my heart. Every night, the fiend would whisper, Open the window. Jump. So finally I did.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Sweetest Dark   “A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely   “Abé creates a rich and refreshing world.”—RT Book Reviews (four stars)   “Abe’s writing is both elegant and beautiful . . . The Sweetest Dark is the perfect fantasy read.”—Badass Book Reviews   “Strong and spellbinding.”—Genre Go Round Reviews