Dark Companionby Marta Acosta
Jane Eyre meets Twilight in Dark Companion, a lush and romantic Gothic YA debut by Latina author Marta Acostanow in trade paperback
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the/i>/i>/i>
Jane Eyre meets Twilight in Dark Companion, a lush and romantic Gothic YA debut by Latina author Marta Acostanow in trade paperback
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress's gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.
The more she learns about Birch Grove's recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the previous scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien's brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?
As Jane begins to piece together the answers to these puzzles, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Groveand what she would risk to stay there….
“This enjoyable, chick-lit update of undead culture gives vampires and their victims a long-overdue makeover. It's a breath of fresh air in a genre marked by creaky gender relations and unchallenged class stratification…. Acosta's savvy take on sexist vampire traditions is refreshing.” Kirkus Reviews
“Acosta's story is an impressive contender in the crowded YA paranormal field.” Publishers Weekly
“Compelling and romantic; a Jane Eyre for the Modern Age.” Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron King
Read an Excerpt
Of my mother I have a faint remembrance: I lost her when I was only seven years old, and this was my first misfortune. At her death, my father gave up housekeeping, boarded me in a convent, and quitted Paris. Thus was I, at this early period of my life, abandoned to strangers.
Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest (1791)
When I was six, I was entered into the foster care system because there was no one to care for me.
I was small and plain without the puppyish cheerfulness that makes grown-ups love a child, so I was passed from one miserable foster home to the next. I scurried in the shadows, away from the predators in the violent neighborhoods where I lived. I existed without love, without safety, without hope.
One sweltering Saturday in August when I was sixteen, I said good-bye to my roommates at the group home where I had spent the last four years. I picked up a ratty vinyl sports bag that contained all my worldly possessions: thrift-shop clothes, two pairs of shoes, a paperback dictionary, my SAT workbooks, a worn leather-bound Bible that had belonged to Hosea, and a tin box of trinkets. I had my life savings, $7.48, in my pocket.
As I walked to the front door of the ramshackle house, Mrs. Prichard grabbed my arm, her maroon nails digging into me. Her spray-on orange tan scaled on her rough skin while her inner arm was as pasty as a reptile’s belly. She wore a purple t-shirt and new jeans with rhinestones and embroidered flourishes.
“Jane Williams, aren’t you gonna thank me for everything I done for you?” Her yellow frizz of hair bobbed each time she snaked her neck.
I jerked away from her grip. “Don’t you ever touch me again.” I kept my eyes on her dirty dishwater-brown ones. “You’ve never done anything for me that you didn’t have to do so you could keep getting money from the state. You would have thrown me in the street the second I aged out.”
She flushed under the fake tan, her cheeks turning copper red. “There was no use spoiling you when you’re gonna wind up like the rest of these stupid girls, another baby-mama on the public dime, hooked on the pipe.”
“I never asked you for a single thing except kindness, but that’s not in you. You don’t know me at all.”
“Don’t you put on airs with me! Your fancy book-learning and phony manners might fool others, but I know that you’re still what you always were—low-class garbage from no-account people. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
My anger was cold and dense. I leaned so close to Mrs. Prichard’s face that I could smell the stale coffee and strawberry gum on her breath. “And I know what you are. You’re a heartless, soulless waste of human life. When I’m older, I’ll make sure that your license is revoked. I hope you burn in hell after what you did to Hosea. You’re the reason he died, and I will never forget that. I will see that you pay.”
Mrs. Prichard’s lower lip quivered and she stepped back. I felt a spark of something unfamiliar: it was power and it warmed me as I imagined a mother’s caress might.
Outside, the sun blazed on the ugly street, revealing the paint peeling on houses, dried blood on the cracked sidewalk, and trash in the gutters. The hood was a volatile mix of the destitute, the dangerous, and the desperate. I knew that the men on the corner, who seemed so nonchalant, noticed me with my bag, because they noticed everything and everyone. I kept my head down as I neared them.
One of the other men said, “Squeak, squeak, squeak,” and they all laughed, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I walked past the liquor store, the check-cashing shop, and houses with chain-link fencing and pit bulls that lunged and snarled. I made sure to keep close to the curb when I went by a crack house, and then I reached a lot with junked appliances.
A tall, skinny Goth girl, incongruous in her short purple tube-dress and platform flip-flops, smoked a cigarette and leaned against a busted washing machine. Her straight waist-length hair was dyed black with shocking pink streaks. She wore chalky makeup, but her shoulders and legs had colorful tattoos.
When she spotted me, she shouted, “Janey!” and dropped the cigarette.
“Hey, Wilde!” I put down my bag and, as we hugged, I felt the thinness of her body and smelled her sugar-sweet perfume. My hand on her bare shoulder blade touched the raised surface of one of the small round scars that marked her body.
We finally let each other go and smiled. The thick blue eyeliner around her gray eyes and her sharp cheekbones made her appear old. She said, “So you’re finally making a prison break from Mrs. Bitchard’s?”
I grinned. “Hosea hated when we called her that. Remember how he’d frown that way he did and say, ‘She’s trying as best she knows.’”
“He was always schoolin’ us to act ladylike.” Wilde deepened her voice and said, “‘Sis, you’re too pretty to say such ugly words.’ Heck, I still feel bad when I cuss.”
“Me, too.” We both were quiet for a moment. “The school’s sending a car to get me.”
“High styling!” Wilde had a wide-open smile with a small gap in her front teeth that made it special. “Well, good on you.”
“I’m going to miss you, girlfriend.” I wondered when she’d last slept or eaten a real meal. “How are you doing? How are you really doing?”
“Oh, you know. You know how you been riding me to get my GED?”
“Because you’re as bright as a new penny.”
“That’s what Hosea used to say. Anyways, I’m gonna get my degree and go to beauty school.”
“Seriously? You’d be an amazing haircutter. You’re working those pink streaks.”
She flipped back her hair. “I did it myself. They’ve got videos online about cutting and styling and the other girls let me practice on them.”
“Wilde, maybe now’s a good time to clean up … because when you apply for those beautician licenses, I think they drug test you.”
Her eyes narrowed in warning. “Let it go, Jane. I already told you, I’ll clean up when I clean up.”
“Sure, I know you will,” I said, because Wilde got defensive every time I brought up this subject. “Hey, I’ll come back to visit when I can.”
“You do what you have to do and get settled in, baby girl. I’m gonna be fine even without you checking on me twice a week, and don’t deny it. My man, Junior, takes care of me.”
I gritted my teeth so I wouldn’t say what I thought about the midlevel thug.
When she gave me another hug, her hand snuck into my front pocket. “Some cash for your stash.”
“Wilde, you don’t have to…” I began, but she cut me off, saying, “Janey, you gave me running-away money when I needed it.”
I gazed around at the dismal surroundings. “It wasn’t enough to get you out of this place.”
“Well, you were always more ambitious than me. I got away from Mrs. Bitchard and that’s all that matters.” She shrugged her narrow shoulders. “Quid pro quo.”
Laughing, I said, “Where did you learn that?”
“My clientele. See, I can talk Latin, too.”
A gray Volvo slowed on the street and the car’s window rolled down. The man inside leered at Wilde, who waved her hand at him and said to me, “Sorry, Mousie, I gotta get back to work. Now get outa here and show them rich girls that Hellsdale girls got brains, too!” Hellsdale was what we called our city, Helmsdale.
My friend sashayed to the car, swinging her hips widely as she called out, “Need some company, sugar?”
In another life, Wilde would have been a model instead of working the streets. I patted the bills she’d put in my pocket and walked slowly back toward Mrs. Prichard’s foster home. A shiny black Lexus was parked in front of the house. The men on the corner stared at me as I hurried to it, and I knew that they had already called in the license plate to their informant at the police station.
A driver in a blue suit got out of the Lexus just as I reached the front of the house.
“Hi, I’m Jane Williams. Sorry I’m late.”
“Good afternoon, Miss Williams. I’m Jimmy.” He tipped his cap. “I’m a little early. Mrs. Radcliffe didn’t want me to keep you waiting if there was any traffic. May I take your bag?”
As he was placing my ratty bag in the trunk, I saw that 2Slim, the local boss, had joined the corner crew and was now ambling toward me.
I told Jimmy, “I’ll be a minute. Do you mind waiting in the car?”
“No problem.” Jimmy glanced at 2Slim and got in the car.
I stood on the sidewalk and 2Slim seemed to take forever to walk to me. I admired the jaunty tip of his straw hat and the creamy suit that was loose enough to cover a shoulder holster. His skin was a rich caramel and his expression was friendly. “Hey there, Mousie. Going somewhere special?”
He’d never spoken to me before, and now I stood straight and spoke respectfully, because I wasn’t out of here yet. “Hello, sir. I’m going to Birch Grove Academy on a scholarship. It’s in Greenwood.”
“Birch Grove.” He hissed out a soft whistle through his even white teeth. “I heard of it. We had another Hellsdale girl go there before, a long time ago.”
The school’s headmistress hadn’t mentioned anything about another girl from Helmsdale. My confusion must have showed, because 2Slim said, “Nasty little thing left and never looked back. I don’t like people who forget where they from.”
“No, sir, I won’t forget.”
“Rich folk. You know the difference between them and us?”
I thought, Yes, education, money, manners, culture, decency, and waited for him to speak.
“It’s not only that they talk like they just sucked a lemon and dress uptight.” He pointed to a street memorial of plastic flowers and posters for the victim of a recent drive-by. “The difference is that we honest about who we are, what we do. They hide the bodies and think they so clean and nice.” His laugh had the staccato rhythm of automatic gunfire.
I smiled, because when 2Slim made a joke, it was best to smile.
He said, “I remember when you came here, all skittery and spitting mad, like you was rabid. Wasn’t sure if you’d want to get in the game like your girl Wilde, but I didn’t expect you to take the long view. You don’t have it all figured out yet, Mousie, so take care you don’t get your little neck snapped in a trap.”
He reached into his pocket and brought out a gold money clip holding a thick wad of bills. He counted out five twenties and held them toward me. “Here’s some cheese for little Mousie. No one from my turf’s gonna show up without a dime and shame Hellsdale. Can’t do nothing about your clothes now, but at least you neat and decent.”
I took the money, feeling the thick crispness of the paper. “Thank you, sir.”
“You remember me. You ever make good, you remember me. You know my name.”
“Too light to fight and too slim to win,” he said. “I was like you, Mousie, puny, so I had to use other resources.” He tapped one finger to his temple three times. “But for reals, the name’s Norton Barrows Blake. You remember that and I’m sure gonna remember you. Jane Williams, Little Mousie, the orphan girl with the spooky eyes.”
“Thank you, Mr. Blake.” I didn’t want to be remembered as Little Mousie, the puny orphan girl who got shoved around and hassled. I wanted to be someone else.
2Slim stared at me curiously. “You never been like the others, you know. I could tell that from the start. Well, I got business to tend.” Then he flicked his bony fingers toward the car. “Go on now.”
2Slim stood there as I got in the front seat of the Lexus, and Jimmy, the driver, said politely, “You can sit in the back if you like, Miss. There are magazines and refreshments.”
I should have known to sit in the back. “I get a little carsick. Is it okay for me to stay here?”
“Of course, Miss Williams.” He moved to get out, but I closed the door before he could do it for me. He started the car, and I gazed out the window as we drove past a playground with broken swings and a toppled slide. We went by dirty walls and street signs all tagged with WTH, Welcome to Hell.
I’d heard that Eskimos have a hundred different words for snow; we should have had a hundred different words for filth because everything in Helmsdale was covered with grit and grime.
Jimmy said, “You can listen to the radio if you want, Miss.”
“Thanks.” I clicked it on to fill the uncomfortable silence. It was preset to a news station, and we listened to the entire broadcast twice as Jimmy steered along a series of freeways that led away from the group house, through the city, and beyond. I was conscious of my shabby clothes against the leather seat, but the fold of bills in my pocket reassured me.
Road construction slowed the trip, and three hours later we finally arrived in the town of Greenwood. It was set in a small valley below wooded hills draped with gauzy shawls of fog.
Jimmy turned on his headlights. “This place is in a fog belt. It’s overcast all year-round.”
I didn’t answer because I was too busy staring at a tree-lined main street with a row of shops, each with gleaming windows and colorful flower boxes. Jimmy took an avenue up a hill where enormous older homes were set back behind hedges. The color green was everywhere: deep green trees, vivid green lawns, and lush green bushes. I suddenly felt queasy and closed my eyes, but I could still see green, green, green, and I clasped my hands together and squeezed my eyelids tight.
“Feeling carsick, Miss Williams?”
Jimmy’s voice snapped me out of the weird feeling, and I blinked. “I’m fine.”
“Here we are, Miss. Birch Grove Academy.”
Copyright © 2012 by Marta Acosta
Reader’s Guide copyright © 2012 by Tor Books
Meet the Author
MARTA ACOSTA is the author of the award-winning Casa Dracula series. She received degrees in creative writing and literature from Stanford University and has been a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Times. Her books have been selected as: Book Sense Pick, Fresh Fiction Fresh Pick, Catalina Magazine Humor Book of the Year, and BookPage Notable pick. Marta lives in the San Francisco bay area with her family.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Dark Companion, By Marta Acosta “Dark companion” is a story about a girl named Jane Williams and her journey to find out who she is and what she wants out of life. That being said, this book also has plenty of romance, mystery, danger, and magic to satisfy any reader. Jane is orphaned at an early age and grows up in the fostercare system. Her life is hard but she is determined to improve her circumstances by studying hard in school with the hopes of getting a scholarship. Her prayers are answered when she is offered a full scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. Jane arrives at the academy and is welcomed by Headmistress Radcliffe who is very warm and kind to Jane. Jane is given a small cottage to live in just off campus and is offered a small allowence to help tutor Lucky, one of the headmistress’ sons. Things really seem to be looking up for Jane as she settles into her new and improved life, but Birch Grove Academy and its inhabitants are shrowded in mystery and Jane may be in very real danger. This story had my emotions going in every direction and I was very sad to have it end. “Dark companion” is filled with some really fun and engaging characters. *Lucian (Lucky) Radcliffe- Very handsome, spoiled, vain, but deep down has a good heart. *Jacob (Jack) Radcliffe- Cute, artistic, smart, and full of life. Jack is one of my favorite characters and several times in the book I just wanted to reach into the pages and kiss him. *Mary Violet Holiday (MV) - Vivacious, spirited, and captivating. MV is probably my favorite character in this book, she is so well written and I want her to be real so I can hang out with her. I really think that Mary Violet diserves a book all her own. *Constance Applewhaite and Harriet (Hattie) Tyler are two other girls that become friends with Jane and they are both great additions to this story. “Dark companion” is also full of the supernatural and is rightly categorized as a teen paranormal romance, but I found it to be so much more. Jane is a girl with a very dark past who has strength at her core that I wish I shared. I loved this story and really hope that the author gives us more stories placed in this enchanting world.
Awesome book love it soooo much
This review is really hard to write as this book is not your typical YA novel. The synopsis alone is very intriguing, but the story is anything but what you expect. I was floored by it, and I really enjoyed it, up until a point. Then everything became a little weird… And this is why the review is so hard to write. I can’t give anything away, so I can’t really tell you why it got weird. So let’s talk characterization instead. I really, really liked Mary Violet and Jack. They are phenomenal side characters and they kept me smiling throughout the novel. Mary, with her amusing comments and all around good nature, and Jack with his witty remarks and teasing persona, are easily likable characters. However, Lucky is a despicable character, and I really hate him. In my opinion, he has no redeeming qualities and he ruined the novel for me a bit. His personality is atrocious, and the things he does (the things I can’t say because it would give away the story) made me ill as I read. Likewise, Jane seems like a very smart young woman; she is especially street smart, but when it comes to boys, she loses her head and makes extremely poor choices. So, as the book developed, I found myself liking her less and less, and by the end, I really didn’t have any respect for either her or Lucky, though Jane does redeem herself just a tad in the end. I think Acosta is a great writer, but this story is a little too weird/creepy/awkward for me. I really did like the premise, and I promise, this isn’t like anything you’ve ever read before, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.
Loved this book!! Will there be a 2nd??
I love gothic horror, and this book definitely has its fair share of that. The book has some original elements that lifted it up to the next level. Ultimately, I had trouble connecting to Jane though, the main character. The pacing was slow though, and it took a while for the suspense to pick up. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When it came to Dark Companion I went into the story blindfolded. I had no information about the story whatsoever except that it is supposed to be one of the best novels being released in this year of 2012. So as you can imagine, I was a bit hesitant towards the novel and I’m pleased to say that Dark Companion by author Marta Acosta sent me over the moon with happiness. Just as I was told, this novel really is one of the best of 2012 and even this early in the review I’m saying that if you’re a fan of vampire lore (like me) you’ll fall in love with Dark Companion. It’s a new twist on vampire mythology and human genetics. The novel itself began in a way that instantly hooked my attention with a prologue that begins with the day that the main character “died”. That’s interesting. Trust me. Especially since it’s technically the end of the novel at the start of the novel. A little confusing I know, so I’ll move on. Dark Companion is about teenager, Jane Williams, who is an orphan who, thanks to a tragic accident, has no memories of her life before being put into the foster program. After making a promise to her dead friend, Hosea, to become successful, Jane finds herself being sent away from her foster home and to the elite Birch Grove Academy. Which is full of dark family secrets that will keep your head spinning continuously throughout the novel. The Academy itself was one that I found refreshing compared to the ones that are clichéd in the YA universe. It isn’t really one that is full of slutty rich girls, sex, drugs and drinking. I seriously want to thank the author for keeping the Academy far from those topics since I find that they take away from a story by a long shot. Regardless, Birch Grove is for extraordinary girls meaning that each character that we were introduced to was exceptionally intelligent and spoke a foreign language. One of my favorite characters in the entire novel wasn’t the main character Jane but her friend Mary Violet who, despite being obsessed with romance and other… mature aspects that come with romance, was flat out hilarious. I will admit that it took the novel to get through half the story to eventually get to the exciting parts of the novel about “vampires”. While I won’t exactly say who the vampires are (because I’m pretty sure that’s a spoiler) I will warn readers that these are not the vampires that you know. The vampires in Dark Companion are still humans except that they have a blood deficiency that causes them to crave human blood. So main character Jane finds herself being considered to be a “Companion” who is a person that becomes the “vampire’s personal blood–bank. Personally, I found that the relationship between a companion and a “vampire” shows a girl’s need to feel wanted by somebody other than themselves. While the romantic area of the novel was found a lot later in the story, I have to admit that though Lucky is shown as a very chivalrous character, I was crushing hard on Jack. Who was funny, cute and a bit of a smart-ass. I would recommend this novel to fans of vampire lore, YA readers looking for something new or interesting and to readers who want to try something new. Dark Companion is the definition of awesome.
Spoilers ahead! If you want the whole book to be a surprise as to the characters and relationships please do not read this review. Browsing through a Barnes and Noble two nights ago, I desperately needed a new book, and happened to stumble upon this book, Marta Acosta's 'Dark Companion'. The plot of the novel quickly grabbed my attention, and I bought the book immediately. I a good bit of it the night I got it and finished the rest of the book the following day -- that shows that I do believe the book was very interesting. I'm not going to go and explain the whole plot -- I'll simply tell you my opinion on the book. This book is definitely a favorite of mine. The plot is interesting and most of the characters are very well developed -- my only exception to that is Lucky. My problem with Lucky was that he seemed to be your average playboy/love interest character who, as expected, holds a secret. His personality didn't shine to me in any ways like everyone else's did. He's just an immature teenage boy who cannot handle responsibilities, yet who Jane happens to lust for -- at least that's what I think. She lusts to be popular and likeable and pretty, and I think that was the only reason Lucky had any appeal to her other than his looks. He was popular, and being with him was like a lifelong pass to popularity. Along with my problems with Lucky's characterizations, I also feel like the relationship dynamics between the characters are horribly confusing and not well thought out. Even at the beginning of the book, you are faced with the fact that Jack, Lucky's brother, and Hattie are in a relationship. Yet, as you progress to the end of the story, when you begin to realize that Jack cares about and likes Jane, he insists that he and Hattie are 'just friends', and very close to the end this is confirmed by Hattie -- while at first I thought perhaps their fake relationship was a hoax or was to hide something, I realized there was nothing to hide. Jack was not blood related to the Radcliffes, as Jack was adopted, so he didn't have to hide any problems like Lucky had to. And then, to make matters more confusing, right near the end of the book, Hattie confesses her love to Lucky, although all I saw in the book was Hattie was disgusted with lucky for his immaturity. Don't let my harsh opinion on silly little things drive you off, however. This book is a great read, and makes a nice addition to a book collection.
You may have noticed that I have not given DARK COMPANION a “rating” and I have done this for a number of reasons. I hope that by the end of this review you will come to understand why, as well as after you read DARK COMPANION you will have to let me know if you feel the same way! (note - I have a 3 star rating via B&N as you have to give a rating) I came across DARK COMPANION back in January of this year and yes, I did drool all over myself when I saw the cover. There is something so dark and beautiful about it I was like a two-year old with grabby hands until I snagged a copy via First Reads. I read and re-read the synopsis probably 15 times while I waited for it to arrive in the mail. Each time I read the synop I just couldn’t believe I was so pumped about a Vampire novel (GR had Vampires listed as a Genre, not so much people, kinda, but no). When the mailman finally pulled up with my copy I all put tore the packaging open with my teeth and started reading. DARK COMPANION starts with a wicked awesome prologue of Jane’s past, which is about the only Paranormal we get for the first half of the book. Then, we read on to learn about Jane now, who has been in foster care and is preparing to leave for the elite Birch Grove Academy. I was hooked solid for the first 150-ish pages – learning about Jane’s time in foster care, a group home, not knowing much about her past and living in a violent neighborhood – yes, I was hooked, but at the same time I was really confused and wondering where my Gothic Paranormal was. Don’t get me wrong, the start to the book was exceptional even without the paranormal aspect and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But then, Jane gets to Birch Grove and I’m not sure why but the story fell off for me. I actually stopped reading it and read another book because I was so disconnected. Finally, I sat down and finished and I’m glad I didn’t give up hope. The book does pick back up and it kinda ties that middle section together for the readers but even post reading I’m still feeling a bit of something is still missing or rushed. Leaving a couple of pieces of the story a little frayed still. Sorry, I feel like I’m tap dancing a bit around this and I am. It’s the fact that if I tell you some of the things that fell off for me I will give some key reveals of the mystery in the book away and that my friends is not why I’m here, because this read definitely packs some heat in the mystery department which put a smile on this girls face! So, on that note, I’m going to move on and leave you to read and decide where the plot took/takes you - - One thing this book did deliver on 110% for me was a diverse, amusing set of characters. Again, I loved learning about Jane in the beginning of the book. To me she is a strong, admirable female lead, but I did disconnect with her as I moved through the second half. Which seems odd right? Other odd thing – I don’t really like either of the love interests! NEITHER!? And you still enjoyed it Kimberly? Yes, wanna know why? Of course you do. I’ve got one name for you: Mary Violet. I laughed so freakin’ hard at some points my stomach hurt! She was outstanding and while I didn’t realize it during my reading, but after while I was reviewing notes and pondering my feelings…Mary Violet seems like a supporting character during most of the book, but her character stands for quite a lot, which we will discuss next, but first I have to swing back around to the men! Out of Jack and Lucky, I had more of a connection to Jack. Lucky seemed just a little too odd for me, but again, that may have been the point because he is so strongly tied into the mystery of the plot. So after all of the confusion and back and forth on the plot, the characters, the genre-bending, the book comes to a close. I set it aside and start gathering my review together and it dawns on me that while DARK COMPANION does bloom into the promised Gothic Paranormal, there is also quite a bit of social issues brought up. Social and economic issues in inner cities, the effects of foster care on children and teens, constant changes in foster and group homes, women’s rights, abusive and potentially abusive relationships…I can keep going, but you can see, like WOW? Young-Adult Gothic Paranormal Fiction Real Issues read? Sure was a first for me!
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta caught my attention on Tor’s website and I knew I had to review it. I am pleased to tell you that this creepy, dark and unique novel delivered. It has mystery, romance, interesting characters and a plot filled with twists. It begins when we meet Jane Williams an emancipated minor who is leaving her foster home to attend an all girl’s school known as Birchwood Grove Academy for Girls. In an attempt to change her life, Jane has studied diligently and has received a full scholarship from this elite academy. She says good-bye to her old life, and friends, in run down Hellsdale. School is set to begin in a few days, and she quickly settles in at the cottage that will be her home. The tale that unfolds is fun, suspenseful and eerily creepy as Jane learns things aren’t quite normal at Birchwood. She meets two brothers. One wants to protect her and the other desperately needs something from her. I quickly became immersed in this world and consumed this novel in the course of two evenings. The protagonist Jane has had a tough life. She was involved in a horrific event when she was a child and has no memories of it. Growing up in foster care was difficult but another child influenced her, and pushed her to reach for her dreams. She is driven, kind and unique. She is grounded in her belief that she is ordinary. She believes that with hard work anyone can overcome. She is flawed and that becomes apparent in her relationships with both Lucky and Jack. I adored Jack and was unsure of Lucky. They are the only boys living on campus as they are the head mistresses sons. Jane tutors Lucky. He is impossibly good looking, popular and extremely quirky. Jane’s relationship with Lucky was really creepy and at times made me feel downright uncomfortable. Jack has already graduated, plays in a band and teases Jane unmercifully. While he doesn’t have Lucky’s god like looks, he is charming and lovable. I questioned Jane's actions and at one point wanted to slap her and yell are you crazy! I love when a book gets me this involves. My favorite character was Mary Violet and she made me laugh with her poems and comments. This child is an original and I loved that about her. Other characters rounded out the cast and added to the mystery of Birchwood. The tale Acosta has spun is unique and at times very dark. The whole tale is shrouded in mystery and we learn things as Jane does. This added to the whole creepy factor and I loved every minute of it! The pacing is well done and the author’s writing style brought the tale to life. With a secret society, rituals and lore, this book is sure to keep you spellbound. She even manages to deal with prejudice and social differences. I love that despite the mystery the main characters were well fleshed out. Acosta kept me guessing as to who everyone was and what their intent was. I loved this aspect of it. While the reveal of the secrets at Birchwood was very, very strange it was unique and felt surreal. As I stated in the previous paragraph parts were creepy and kind of made me feel of balance as I read them, but it all came together nicely. I recommend Dark Companion to fans of dark paranormal mysteries with a splash of romance. I think you will enjoy discovering the secrets within the halls of Birchwood Academy. I am adding Marta Acosta to my author’s to watch list. I want to thank Tor for providing this finished copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
I totally fell for jacob