Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

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Dark Companion
Marta Acosta
Release date: July 3rd, 2012
by Tor Teen

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When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She’s even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper’s cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something’s not quite right about the school — or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She’s also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school…and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

*A copy was provided by Marta Acosta for review purposes*

Note: After a comment on Goodreads, I want to note that nothing in this review is a spoiler. Everything mentioned in the 1st paragraph could easily all be on the blurb as these are facts that we learn from the start.

After being brought back to life from an accident that killed her, Jane is left with no memory of her childhood, and no parents. A foster child in a run-down town of Helmsdale, Jane can’t refuse when a scholarship to an elite all-girl school is offered. She gets living expenses and her own place to live. It all seems so unreal, and it definitely feels… bizarre.

Dark Companion is different from anything I’ve ever read. It’s a Gothic novel with a dark vibe, sweet romance, and original plot twists. When I met Jane, the protagonist, I found her a bit awkward and strange. She was raised in foster homes in a decrepit town and has only recently learned to speak proper English. I was a bit apprehensive about what kind of character she would be and how it would affect the story. But once she gets to Birch Grove Academy, Jane makes a few friends, starts getting out of her shell, and becomes a very enjoyable, sophisticated character. She is not afraid to speak her mind; she makes her intentions and feelings clear and I admired that about her. Her friend Mary Violet is easily the funnest character in the novel. She is absolutely hilarious with her quirky poetry and sarcastic sense of humor. Lucky and his brother, Jack, are the only guys on campus – the headmistress’s sons. I was never sure which one Jane was romantically fond of, but I was glad that I was rooting for the right one. I liked them both. Jack is more arrogant, yet charming, while Lucky is the outgoing, if a bit strange, one.

The blurb of Dark Companion gives out an eerie feeling but without a lot of actual plot details. Although perfect to avoid spoilers and set the right mood, it left me unsure of what to expect. Once inside its pages, I was completely thrown off my game – not in a bad way, it was just so different and unique. Above all else, I was surprised by the dark Gothic mood of the story, which was great because I’m a big fan and loved nearly every Gothic mystery I’ve had a chance to read. The “Birch Grove secret” is a lot different from what I envisioned. It is undeniably strange, but also very interesting with a touch of realism to it – as in: in our world. (I even Googled!). However, I did find that once the secret is revealed, the story takes a more haphazard course. A lot of plot twists and turns are exposed in a manner than left me a bit overwhelmed. The ending did redeem it a little: It ends sweetly with a resolved feel and a good outlook to the future.

Dark Companion is a book that I don’t think will be for everyone; it calls for a certain audience. Be prepared for Gothic-type mysteries, unusual plot elements and an old-world feel. Fortunately, I found myself enthralled by it’s eccentricity and fully enjoyed it.

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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33 Responses to “Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta”

  1. Nick

    The idea of a Gothic-type mystery really intrigues. I’ve come across various mixed reviews for this book, so I never check it out, but your positive review has really piqued my interest. The main character’s friend seems absolutely wonderful. I often find that the friends are actually more interesting than the main characters themselves. πŸ˜›
    Great review, Giselle. πŸ™‚

  2. The Teen Book Guru

    Wow this book seems so fascinating and creepy!! Like a great mystery. πŸ™‚ And I can’t wait to find out more about Lucky!! So glad you loved it, Giselle and I can’t wait to get my hands on this! The cover is gorgeous too. <3 Lovely review, Giselle!

  3. Amy

    I have been wanting to read this book since I first saw it in the catalogs. I requested it, but didn’t get it. I can’t wait until it comes out. I will definitely have to check this one out. It sounds awesome, and your review has me pretty sure I will love it.

  4. Jenea Whittington

    This does sound like I would like it. I like all the Gothic-mysteries. I really enjoyed your review. I’ll have to keep my eye out for this one.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    Awesome review cupcake, my review will posts next week and I liked this Gothic, dark, bizarre, suspenseful little tale. It was so different and at times made me a little uncomfortable..LOL

  6. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I only had to read the word different to become convinced that I need to read this asap. The work Gothic also helped. I was always curious about this book, but never enough to actually get a copy. Now I will.
    Amazing review, Giselle!

  7. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Oh I love a good mystery. This one sounds really… different. I like the idea of having two guys that I may actually like vying for the girls attention, normally I absolutely despise one and then get mad at the girl for being such an idiot. Great review!

  8. Shortskie

    Fabulous review! I love the cover on this one and definitely sounds like something I’d pick up and read. I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Can’t wait to get my hands on it! πŸ˜€ Glad that you liked it.

  9. kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews

    I agree with you this book is really different and refreshing, Giselle! I loved it to bits, but I love all Marta’s books. She has this really witty writing style, and characters like MV make want to write what they say and sell it on t-shirts. Excellent review!

  10. Gabby

    This one sounds SO good, Gothic mysteries are a big yes for me! Plus I adore that cover, its pretty. I cant wait to get a copy for myself.
    Fantastic review Giselle πŸ™‚

  11. Danny

    I am happy to hear you liked it so much… because.. I didn’t and it made me sad! I had a hard time connecting with Jane and I truly had my arguments with her over he behavior! :-))

    I just think I wasn’t the perfect audience just as you said! :))

  12. Candace

    This does sound good! I like the whole boarding school setting, but her living in a cottage makes it a little different. And that its Gothic, that definitely has me anxious to read this one!

  13. Shooting Stars Mag

    Thanks for the warning. Sounds like a really interesting book. I hadn’t heard of it before. Didn’t this author write adult vampire stories? I feel like I recognize the name…At any rate, I think I’d enjoy this one.

    -Lauren

  14. Alexa

    This sounds interesting and maybe slightly haunting in tone. I think I’d like to read it, though I’d probably have to be in the right mindset πŸ™‚

  15. Silverlight

    I started reading this and then kind of got distracted, I should restart it again, after reading your review, I just may like it after all…Great review as usual πŸ™‚

  16. Katie @ BlookGirl

    I’ve been curious about this one, but avoided it, as I wasn’t sure about the premise. However, having read your review, I think I’ll give it a try. I like dark and eccentric as long as it’s well-written.

    Thanks for the heads-up, love muffin! <3

  17. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    Hmm, this one definitely has me curious! I usually like those more Gothic mystery types, but who knows. o: I love different and unique too though! From the blurb, I so want it on my TBR pile! Love your review!

  18. Lexie

    Wonderful review! I’ve been very excited about this one, because I adore the concept. It just seems so dark and compelling and different. A lack of details can definitely leave readers confused, and that’s never fun, but the rest of it sounds quite lovely. πŸ˜€