The Deepest Night (Sweetest Dark #2), by Shana Abe (review)

August 14, 2013 Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

The Deepest Night (Sweetest Dark #2), by Shana Abe (review)The Deepest Night by Shana Abe
Series: Sweetest Dark #2
Published by Bantam on August 13, 2013
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA (Young Adult)
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Also in this series: The Sweetest Dark
Also by this author: The Sweetest Dark

It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.

With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Beautifully written, deeply romantic, and filled with daring adventure and magic, The Deepest Night is a mesmerizing novel of the enduring pull of destiny, and the eternal strength of love.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

I loved The Sweetest Dark, so I was both excited and apprehensive about the sequel, The Deepest Night. Excited, because The Sweetest Dark was one of those books you can’t stop thinking about—lush, seductive, magical, and heartbreaking. I wanted more: more about Lora, more about Armand, more about drákon. And apprehensive, because it would be so easy for the sequel to not live up to the promise of the first book.

Well, I needn’t have worried. The Deepest Night is just as suspenseful and captivating as the first book, and very nearly as beautiful in language and imagery. If the romance is a little less compelling, it’s because Lora herself is hesitant. Armand is not, and one or two of his declarations will take your breath away.

(SPOILER ALERT: I can’t talk about what happens in the second book without giving away at least a little of the first book, so if you haven’t read The Sweetest Dark yet, go read it now and then come back!)

spoiler-caution
The Deepest Night opens not too long after the climactic events of The Sweetest Dark Lora is still at Iverson, recuperating from the gunshot wounds she received in the last book.  Armand is temporarily master of Tranquility; his father, the duke, is in an insane asylum.  The nature of the bond between Armand and Lora is now clearer, as are Armand’s feelings toward her.  And Jesse. . . Jesse is not quite as out of the picture as I thought.

Lora’s future is somewhat up in the air as The Deepest Night begins.  Her scholarship was for a year, and the duke may not renew it, especially in his current circumstances.  Since her old orphanage is closed, plans are made to send Lora to an orphanage in Scotland—plans which Armand is both quick and clever enough to override, when it becomes clear that Lora must rescue a prisoner of war from within Germany itself.  Armand refuses to let her go alone, and the two of them embark on a daring and dangerous journey across the Channel and deep into enemy territory.

As in the first book, the narration moves from Lora (first person) to Armand (third person) to Jesse (first person), and those shifts help to illuminate not only the characters but the changing relationships between them.  The love triangle of the first book was more-or-less resolved with that book’s ending, and in terms of characters, The Deepest Night primarily focuses on the relationship between Armand, whose feelings toward Lora become crystal clear, and Lora, who is still trying to deal with her grief for Jesse and figure out her feelings toward Armand.

Several secondary characters make a repeat appearance in The Deepest Night, most notably Lady Sophia and her despised stepsister, Lady Chloe.  While I still don’t like Chloe, one scene does humanize her a bit, and made me feel some sympathy toward her.  I’ve always thought Sophia was interesting; she’s the only Iverson student who is even remotely nice to Lora, but her motivations are never entirely clear.  They still aren’t, but I like her even more after the second book.  I hope she—and perhaps even Chloe as well—will find some resolution in the third book.

There are hints toward the end of the book that another love triangle may be brewing in the third book. I hope not, because Armand grows in this book, appearing less spoiled and arrogant, and increasingly courageous, caring, and honorable.  Lora changes too, becoming more comfortable with who and what she is and more accepting of her feelings and responsibility toward Armand.

For all that their relationship begins to resolve in this book, Lora and Armand’s story is definitely not over at the end of The Deepest Night.  There is also an intriguing suggestion that there may be yet another drákon around—a girl, in France.  She appears and disappears from the book in the blink of an eye, but I strongly suspect she will show up in the next book.  And the epilogue implies that Lora isn’t done dealing with her past, so I hope we’ll find out more about who she is and where she came from.  But thankfully, The Deepest Night does end both more happily and less suspensefully than The Sweetest Dark. It’s a good thing, because book 3 hasn’t been finished yet, and as far as I know, no publication date has been set…so I’ve got a long wait before I  find out what happens next!

I strongly recommend this series to readers who enjoy shapeshifters, dragons, romance, and historical fiction.  While the books are marketed as YA, there’s plenty to appeal to adults as well.

 

ETA: Book three, The Fiercest Joy, was published in February 2017.

 

four-stars

About Shana Abe

Shana Abe was born in Texas, spent most of her childhood in Colorado, and worked as a model in Japan when she was seventeen. She got her start writing romances, publishing several medieval romances before eventually turning to historical paranormal/fantasy romances with her Drákon series (The Smoke Thief, The Dream Thief, Queen of Dragons, The Treasure Keeper, and The Time Keeper.) The Sweetest Dark series is her first foray into YA; the books are loosely related to the Drákon books, but can be read as a standalone series.

2 Responses to “The Deepest Night (Sweetest Dark #2), by Shana Abe (review)”

  1. kimbacaffeinate

    Ok that is it..i need to order book one and check out this series…it sounds wonderful and you have me curious, plus I love the setting!