Author: Shana Abe
Series: The Sweetest Dark
Release date: August 13, 2013
Published by: Bantam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! I don’t know about you, but while I often expect the second book to be good, I don’t usually expect the second book to be better than the first! The Deepest Night is so fast-paced I read it in one night.
Eleanor (Lora) and Armand (Mandy) are called by the stars to save Aubrey, Mandy’s older brother, who was shot down behind enemy lines and assumed dead in the first book. This second story takes place the summer after Eleanor’s first year at The Iverson School for Girls. Mandy has figured out a way to keep Eleanor with him by allowing a military hospital to set up on his estate and inviting Eleanor to work there as a nurse. While everyone else is working, Eleanor and Mandy are making their rescue plan for Aubrey. This plan requires Eleanor to use her Turning skills, becoming smoke and dragon, to reach Aubrey in Prussia. The plan is dangerous and requires Mandy and Eleanor to trust each other, but Mandy’s skin is beginning to itch which means his first Turn is coming soon, and it may endanger their rescue attempt and their very lives.
I loved this story! It seems crazy to give a first book 3 out of 5 stars and a second book 5 out of 5, but that is exactly what I’m doing. This second book really brought out the fantastical elements, clearly marking Eleanor and Mandy as dragons. It is a graceful, elegant story--I know, strange words to describe a story, but really that’s what the writing feels like.
The dangerous rescue mission is one element that made me love this book more than the first. The action allows Eleanor to explore her abilities and to admit that while she seems tough on the outside, she does lack a little self-confidence when it comes to being who she really is. I was able to connect with her better because these emotions made her seem more real to me. Another problem she is facing is whether she should resist Mandy’s love for her because she still pines for the love she lost when Jesse died in book one. In this story, they must rely on each other so much more in order to be safe, and this creates some lovely romantic tension. And, of course, there is the fear that both the reader and Eleanor and Mandy feel as they embark on their rescue mission which makes this story full of delicious tension.
I also really enjoyed getting to know Mandy better. In the first book, I thought he was selfish and stuck up, but in the second book you get to hear directly from his point of view in several of the chapters. I could better understand how his pull towards Eleanor, who still loves Jesse, tears him apart.
The writing is gorgeous. I could picture every little thing. Abe’s writing is elegant, not overly detailed, but her specific word choices evoke just the right images and emotions. Loved it!
Thinking over this, it is really the emotion mixed with the quick, beautifully described action that makes this story rock. So if you enjoyed the first book, it will be more than worth your time to pick up The Deepest Night when it comes out in August. Happy reading!