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Welcome to Blythewood.
At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her ...

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Welcome to Blythewood.
At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood. 
But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes. 
Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/14/2013
In this atmospheric period piece set in 1911–12, a teenage factory girl is sent to her mother's alma mater, an elite girls' school located in upstate New York. There, Avaline Hall discovers that the girls of Blythewood Academy are secretly trained to work magic in order to fight off the dangers of Faerie, including winged Darklings and treacherous lampsprites. As Avaline unravels the mysteries of Blythewood, her own unrealized potential, and her deceased mother's tragic past, she grasps a larger picture, one in which the Fae may not be all evil. Goodman (Arcadia Falls) delivers a beautifully evocative tale perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Tiffany Trent. First in a trilogy, Goodman's story is intriguing, romantic, eerie, and adventurous, with the narrative wrapped around fairy tales and historical events, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Some of the supernatural framework may be familiar, but Goodman's integration of social causes and philosophy of the era—notably workers' and women's rights, as well as the roles of superstition, science, and reason—lead to a multifaceted and mature fantasy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Oct.)
VOYA - Laura Woodruff
Sixteen-year-old Avaline Hall, a New York orphan who never knew her father, must support herself after her mother's suicide. She finds work at a textile factory and becomes trapped in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, which killed scores of young women. Just before the fire strikes, she encounters a sinister cape-clad man, smoke escaping from his mouth, who follows her to the factory roof and pushes her off. Before she can hit the ground, a handsome youth with wings saves her and immediately flies away. Ava has always known she is different and "hears" things, such as internal chimes portending a coming disaster, but now she fears she is insane. She spends several terrible months in a mental hospital following the fire but is eventually discovered by her wealthy grandmother, who sends her to her mother's alma mater, Blythewood. At Blythewood, Ava discovers that the world is ruled by magic. She is a "chime child," one born at the stroke of midnight and given special powers against evil. She joins other carefully chosen girls in learning about the myriad magical creatures living in the woods that surround the school and mastering special skills to protect against evil. The smoke-breathing man, Judicus van Drood, the prince of evil, continues to seek Ava's destruction, while Raven, the handsome winged Darkling, seeks to protect her and wins her heart. This fifth book by Goodman, clearly an imitation of Rowling's Harry Potter, with a touch of Meyer's Twilight in the character of Raven, is nevertheless sufficiently different to entertain a reader. Ava is a strong protagonist supported by a cast of interesting female characters in the familiar conflict of good against evil. A meandering plot line that incorporates a few real places and events keeps things moving. While conflicts are resolved, the somewhat open ending leaves room for a sequel. Reviewer: Laura Woodruff
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Avaline Hall, alone in the world and not confident in her own sanity, is working at New York City's Triangle Waist factory to keep from starving. A devastating fire with links to her mother's mystery-shrouded death sets Ava on a path toward a life she never could have imagined. After a harrowing stay in Bellevue, where she is held captive, she is rescued by her estranged grandmother and sent to Blythewood, a boarding school full of secrets, magic, and danger. There she grapples to make sense of her mother's past and her own future. What are the bells only she can hear? Should she follow her heart and believe that a Darkling could be her friend, or listen to the Order who teach her that all faeries are evil? Who is she to believe as she comes into her own powers and uncovers pieces of the truth? The class struggles in this story set in the early 1900s are vividly depicted side by side with battles of magic and Faerie. Heavy in atmosphere with just enough romance, this novel is sure to find an appreciable following. Character development is strong as readers follow Ava in her search for answers to mysteries both external and internal. Fans will just have to hope that the rather abrupt ending means that a sequel is in the works.—Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Readers looking to lose themselves in a beautifully told fantasy, ripe with magic, forbidden love and unspeakably dark forces, will find a happy home at Blythewood, a boarding school for girls. Having lost her mother and been forced to seek employment as a seamstress in order to survive, Avaline Hall never dreamed that she would one day attend her mother's beloved alma mater. But when a mysterious fire erupts at the factory and nearly claims Avaline's life, everything changes. Suddenly, Ava finds herself face to face with her estranged grandmother and the opportunity to attend the school of her dreams. Though the storyline meanders a bit, what follows is a series of discoveries about Blythewood, Ava's mother and her own strange powers that will hook readers and keep them reading despite a few slow spots. The novel is at its best when the story turns to the topic of forbidden love and sparks fly between Ava and the mysterious dark-eyed, winged boy who rescues her on more than one occasion. While intent on discovering his identity, Ava is equally determined to learn why her mother was expelled from Blythewood and to uncover the truth behind her own paternity. It's a long and winding road that leads Ava toward the answers to her questions, and readers are likely to agree that it's a journey well worth taking. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670784769
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Series: A Blythewood Novel Series , #1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 250,731
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 1.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water, The Drowning Tree, The Ghost Orchid, The Sonnet Lover, The Night Villa and Arcadia Falls. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latte, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly and Other Voices. After graduating from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several years in Austin, Texas. She then received an M.F.A. in fiction from the New School University, where she now teaches writing. She has been nominated for the IMPAC award twice, the Simon & Schuster/Mary Higgins Clark award, the Nero Wolfe Award, and was awarded the 2003 Hammett Prize.  Her novels have been translated into ten languages. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. Visit her at 

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Read an Excerpt

“Where are they taking us?” I whispered to Helen, who hung on to Daisy’s other arm.

“To the Rowan Circle,” Helen whispered back. “My cousin told me about it. There’s a clearing there surrounded by rowan trees. Look—” Helen reached out her hand and plucked a branch seemingly from the fog itself. She handed it to me and I could see that the branch was heavy with red berries. My mother had told me something about rowan trees once.

I lifted my eyes from the branch to ask Helen if she knew, but the question died on my lips as I saw what lay in front of us: a clearing ringed round with flames. For a moment I thought the woods were on fire, until I saw that the flames came from torches plunged into the earth. Beside each torch stood a dark, robed figure. As the last girls entered the circle each figure lifted an arm and held aloft something that gleamed in the firelight.

A peal of bells sounded through the fiery circle, playing a tune I hadn’t heard before, a mournful dirge like something medieval church towers would have rung to announce the coming of the plague. The very fog seemed to flee before the sound, creeping out of the circle and into the woods, uncovering as it went a solitary hooded figure standing in the center of the circle. When the bells had ceased the figure lowered her hood.

Dame Beckwith, her silver hair billowing loosely about her face like a swath of fog that had wound itself about her head, turned in a slow circle to look at each of us. In the firelight her pale gray eyes shone yellow, like the eyes of an owl sweeping the forest floor for prey. When she had made a complete circuit, she spoke.

“Girls,” she said, her voice ringing with the same carrying force of the bells, “you have come here tonight to be initiated into the mystery of Blythewood.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2013

    I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads winner.  I. Lov

    I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads winner. 

    I. Loved. This. Book.

    I guess for some readers the writing style was too pretty, too descriptive, too imaginative, too wordy, etc. That’s probably because they read too many crappy teen books that barely rate as literature. It doesn’t have that ridiculous love triangle that is so prevalent in teen paranormal or a week female lead. The relationships are realistic, the story has a wonderful flow with a slow build and a large climax, and, contrary to the free First Reads I’ve previously received, it’s well edited!

    I love early twentieth century backdrops for fantasy. It was a time where everything was exciting and new. Not that these times aren’t exciting now, but today is today and today is more boring than not today. Titanic. Electricity. The early years of automobiles and globalization. 

    The Blythewood academy nestled next to the Blythe Wood is a picturesque setting in itself in the rolling hills of Northern New England. The school for girls isn’t just a beacon of academia and the wealthy. It has history and many, many secrets. 

    I knew I loved this book before it was even revealed to be a paranormal adventure. It was mysterious and slowly evolving, bringing you into their world vividly with the imagery.  It has a timeless writing style that fantasy lovers can read over and over again. I read it slowly because I knew the next in the series isn’t due for a long time yet. I just finished and I’m already thinking about the next time I will read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2013


    Sooo good. Wish that there was a second book and I could read this book over and over!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2014

    This book is good.

    This book is good a little hard to read at times but is still good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    This book was a pretty good read; however, it is very similar to

    This book was a pretty good read; however, it is very similar to another trilogy I read in high school. I have not read any reviews about the author Carol Goodman nor have I read any of her interviews concerning Blythewood, but it seems to me that she has used Libba Bray's novels A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and A Sweet and Far Thing as inspiration for her story. Goodman's protagonist, Ava Hall, parallels that of Bray's, Gemma Doyle. Both of these young ladies lose their mother under somewhat mysterious circumstances and are sent to finishing schools. Ava attends Blythewood while Gemma attends Spence Academy, which is directly referenced in Goodman's novel. Raven, Goodman's leading male, is a parallel to Bray's, gypsy with dark curly hair, Kartik. Both of these boys watch over our heroines and a bit of a romance develops between them. Both use mythology and involve mystical worlds crossing over into our own. Overall, I enjoyed reading this young adult novel, but I am biased by the fact that I read Bray's novels first (as hers were published in 2009) and would suggest reading those before this piece. However, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fantasies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    Very well written, can't wait for the sequel!

    I enjoyed this book very much. I could see some of the "surprises" coming, but that did not take away from the story at all for me.
    If you enjoy fantasy, the early twentieth century era, strong heroines, and good complicated characters; you'll like this story too.
    The author left the book off in a good place, but I'm still anxious for more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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