This book was a very pleasant surprise. I have to admit, the main reason why I read this was because I read the short review posted by Amber Argyle and that made me very curious. So I did read this and I loved the book.
Its set in the early 20th century during the 1st World War and it follows the story of Eleanor Jones or Lora as she is more commonly called, an orphan and someone who knows from the very beginning that she is different from those around her. Due to the war getting too close to London, she is sent to an elite boarding school for girls, called Iverson. There she meets Jesse and Armand. They’re as different as sugar and salt and yet both play an important role in Eleanor learning more about herself and what she is.
The characters are so richly formed that it almost seems like I’ve known them longer than just through the course of the book. I love that Lora is brave and has spirit. At the new school, she is clearly out of her depth and yet she doesn’t let the other girls bully her, while she is intimidated by those around her, she doesn’t let that cow her down. Her journey to self-discovery is also very well crafted. A little more folklore about the Dragons would have been nice. But there’s always book 2 so maybe we can hope.
Jesse was so likeable, almost to the extent that I was wondering that there had to be something wrong with him, that he’d probably betray Lora at the end or something. But it was such a pleasant change from the usual when I learnt that that was not the case. He was just that, a very nice and sweet guy. He’s the only other person at this school that Lora can relate to. He’s like her and doesn’t treat her with scorn. The only thing that I found a little strange was his name, for some reason it didn’t seem to sit well with the period this book was based in. But that’s not even important.
Then there’s Armand, the darkness to Jesse’s light. He is an aristocrat and at the surface, he seems to be the typical spoilt brat, who looks down his nose at those less fortunate than him. But despite that first impression, there was something nice about him. His character drew me in even before I realised what was happening and I found that I quite liked him. Also his verbal tussles with Lora were fun to read. He was drawn to her because she did not pander to his ego or beat around the bush with him, she spoke to him plainly which I think he found very refreshing.
I generally HATE love triangles (for some reason I always end up liking the guy the girl will NOT land up with eventually, case in point Orion from Starcrossed by Josephine Angellini, Orion is the better guy but no, we’ll get Helen and Lucas in the end, but this a rant for another review/post) but for once that was not the case. Here I liked both guys equally and would not have minded one way or another who Lora fell in love with. This book doesn’t even have a love triangle, not really. But I’ll leave you to discover what I mean when you read the book.
As for the other characters, it was pretty thin on that front. The only people that we read about whose characters were slightly better developed than the rest were the Duke, Mrs. Westfield, Sophia and Chloe. In the beginning, even though Sophia was mean to Eleanor, as the book progressed, I also started liking her a bit. Too bad I can’t say the same for Chloe, there has to at least one person whose character is annoying and dislikeable on a colossal level, in this book, it was Chloe.
I like the writing style so much I might actually read some of the other stuff written by Ms. Abé. In the meantime, can’t wait for the sequel!
P.S. – I think the cover is very beautiful.. Fell in love with it..