Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark #2) by Shana Abé

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It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.

With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Beautifully written, deeply romantic, and filled with daring adventure and magic, The Deepest Night is a mesmerizing novel of the enduring pull of destiny, and the eternal strength of love.

In all honesty, not many books have made a major impact on me so far this year which has been kind of disappointing.  Thankfully a few have stood, one of them being the Sweetest Dark series which has cast its spell on me.

In The Deepest Night Lora and Armand are recovering from the tragic events of the previous book. With Armand’s father in the looney bin, Lora’s future at her school is uncertain as he is her benefactor. When the summer break rolls around, rather than being shipped off elsewhere, Armand arranges for Lora to stay at Iverson to assist with the recovering soldiers who are coming to Iverson to recuperate.  Nice to have friends in high places, right? Naturally all of this is a rouse for Armand to keep Lora close by and for them to work together to learn more about their dragon nature. Their adventure together also takes them across the channel into France and Germany. Despite these areas being war torn, their landscape provides a dramatic and beautiful backdrop to Lora's and Armand's complicated and growing friendship.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why I enjoy this series. I love the chemistry between Lora and Armand.  The sparks between them are constantly flying. Their mutual love of dry humor and quick retorts always make their conversations enjoyable. I love Armand’s vulnerability and his undying affection for Lora. He is so patient as he pines after her. The fact that he notices little things about her tugs at my heart. It will certainly win him a few fans. I have great admiration for Lora too. She’s a sharp young woman who knows her mind and makes no apologies for her circumstances. It's almost as if she doesn't belong in that generation. I also admire how Abé describes the physical changes that they both go through. Lora may be new to it but she is all Armand has and she has to be strong enough to help him through it. There is one scene in particular involving a dance on water that built such a stunning visual in my mind, I had to re-read it a few times to be fully satiated. 

But perhaps what really won me over is how Abé dared to take the plunge with Jesse’s character in the first book that seriously affected the dynamic between Armand and Lora in this one. Complicated is an understatement. And when the story shifts perspective briefly to either Armand or Jesse, I find myself almost squealing inside from all the romantic tension.

I definitely think The Deepest Night and the entire Sweetest Dark series is perfect for anyone looking for a touch of old-world romance. There are times when the mood feels so ethereal. And then the images of dragons against the horrors of World War I fighting machines stand in stark contrast to one another. But I think that is also why I like the series so much because these images, these worlds, when they collide into each other create such urgency and momentum. And Lora and Armand both so damaged and so beautiful are perfectly matched.

~ Bel

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