Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Perfect 10:

The Sweetest Dark , Book 2
A Perfect 10
Bantam Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-53173-5
August 2013
Young Adult Fantasy

England, 1915

THE DEEPEST NIGHT begins where THE SWEETEST DARK left off, with orphan and charity student Eleanore Jones at the Iverson School for Girls. The other girls still ostracize and demean Eleanore. The school's founder, the Duke of Idylling, is in an asylum. Eleanore still grieves for her love, Jesse, who died in a German air attack. The duke's youngest son, Armand, is taking care of the estate because his older brother is believed dead, killed in the war going on in Europe. Armand loves Eleanore despite all the wealthy, noble, highly eligible girls available at Iverson. This situation has Chloe, another student at the school, incensed about and abusive to her rival. Chloe's enmity makes her stepsister, Sophia, almost friends with Eleanore. Yet Chloe can't shake Armand's love for Eleanore because the most despised student at school is a dräkon, and so is he.

While Jesse's body is in a grave, his true essence remains a star that continues to guide several players in this story. The duke demands Eleanore visit him, and Mrs. Westcliffe, the school's headmistress, takes Eleanor to him. He calls Eleanore a beast and asks her to find his presumed dead son Aubrey. A voice has told him his oldest son is alive. Armand learns this too. In the first book, Armand was a spoiled aristocratic boy, a foil to the hard working groundskeeper Jesse. In this story he is somewhat reformed, still an aristocrat, but more sympathetic as he is trapped in a love triangle with a dead boy. He turns his father's home into a hospital for returning soldiers just so Eleanore will have a decent place to spend the summer.

While this volume can stand alone, I recommend reading the first volume, THE SWEETEST NIGHT, to understand more of the background. Eleanore's position draws the reader's sympathy, as does Armand's, and even Jesse's. Prompted by Jesse, Armand decides he and Eleanore have to save Aubrey, but doing so will be extremely difficult as his brother is held a prisoner behind enemy lines. Many other obstacles bar their way. All the other characters help build the tension through the emotional turmoil aimed at Eleanore. She is, however, a child of the streets, a survivor, and her strength continues to grow. The setting is darkly romantic, and the war a constant threat. These factors create an interesting and gripping read, but the actual wording is so evocative it takes the story to a Perfect 10.

Robin Lee

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