Genre: Paranormal YA | Excerpt: Yes
Reviewed by: Julia | Source: Author
Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
Kissing, petting, discussions about sex.
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?
DARK COMPANION is an intricate book that mixes a variety of tones and plot lines. The first half sucked me in, giving me confidence in Jane’s steady and methodical nature, set me up to begin worrying that her hard past would blind her to the joys and dangers right in front of her. The central conflict is which view of the world will win out: Jane’s logic and equations or her friends’ magic and poetry… and Marta Acosta’s answer to that question is the most complicated thing of all.
I love the first half of this book; Jane Williams is as captivating and vulnerable as her literary ancestress, Jane Eyre. I love that magic is not assured and that I had no idea how things were going to unfold, either romantically with Jack and Lucky, or plot-wise with the missing women and eerie dynamics of Birch Grove. Once these questions began to be answered, however, the story became less tightly structured. It felt like two books in one, with scenes and details that were wonderful but that didn’t fit the flow of the narrative. The mystery came apart in a very Gothic fashion, the romance resolved almost too neatly, and while I appreciated the future laid out before Jane, I couldn’t get a handle on whether the story was building to a close or to a sequel.
DARK COMPANION carries with it the seeds of several good stories and details that I will enjoy mulling over in the future, but the book itself doesn’t manage to present all if these seeds in particularly polished manner. The writing and the characterization are wonderful, but the narrative flow wanders and breaks apart in the end. Of course, this just leaves room for me to imagine my own ending for the story, and Jane is definitely a character that I’ll enjoy returning to, if only in daydreams.