Author: Carol Goodman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile, 496 pages
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
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.
1911, all girls boarding school, mystery, magic, faeries, and Darklings (cursed angels)...what's not to like? I love Carol Goodman, and her first YA novel is not to be missed. I loved the magical setting and the mystery. I really liked Ava, who is suddenly thrust into this new life, trying to find out the truth about her mom's past (including who her dad is), and learning why she hears bells ringing in her head (the whole bell thing was fascinating).
There are a lot of secondary characters that are important to the story and extremely well-developed, including Helen, who comes from a very wealthy family in New York, Daisy from Kansas City, Sarah, a scholarship student, Nathan, the Headmistress's son and the only boy at Blythewood since he got kicked out of his school, and of course the mystery boy who saves Ava from the fire. It's interesting how the novel deals with prejudices among the students (definitely a class division) and prejudices when it comes to the faeries and the Darklings.
The book is so well-written and richly detailed. The world-building and the mythology/legends were amazing and there were twists and turns in the plot that kept me turning the pages. It's light on romance, but I see a lot of potential about that sub-plot in the future (and there may even be a love triangle that could be quite interesting). I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.
Posted by: Pam