ARC Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

12:58 PM

Dark CompanionTitle: Dark Companion

Author: Marta Acosta
Publisher: Tor/Macmillan
Publication date: July 3, 2012
# Of Pages: 368 ebook
How I got the copy: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review (and from Netgalley).


When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member. 

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

þ   Highly unique plot full of unexpected surprises
þ   A main character you will route for.
þ   Funny friends and hot love interests

The cover is very foreboding and eerie, but I didn't expect the book to be as creepy as it was.     The beginning started off sad, but not creepy yet.  There is a prolouge where someone is dying in the woods and is suddenly lifted into the trees and revived.  So many questions arose as I read just those first few pages.  Then we meet the main character, Jane, in her natural habitat, the ghetto, Hellsdale.  She's leaving her abusive foster mother and saying goodbye to her friend who is working the streets.  When she gets to her new school on a full scholarship she is taken under the wing of the headmistress.  Jane and Mrs. Radcliffe went shopping for clothes and school things.  I was reminded of Harry Potter, a kid leaving a terrible family and going shopping with their new mentor.  Jane was no kid though, she's 16, but she acts like she's 20.  At the same time she is so vulnerable inside you know she is just a kid that has gone through so much already.  She is one of the most real characters I've ever encountered.  Nothing about her life was glazed over.  The author wasn't afraid to give her characters real problems.

Jane moves into the cottage on the grounds of the school.  This is where things started to get creepy.  The woods around her house seem to be alive.  I give Jane a lot of props for staying in that cottage alone.  Just reading about it was freaking me out.  But then we meet Lucky and Jack, Mrs. Radcliffe's sons.  Lucky is hot!  Which at first was enough for me to swoon for Lucky, but sometimes appearances are deceiving.  Jack is outdoorsy, sarcastic, and artistic.  He was kind of annoying at first, but definitely grew on me.  I wished there had been a little more romance, but I understood why there wasn't.  The Radcliffes have a huge secret though that could ruin everything Jane was working towards.  I kind of got angry with Jane when she makes decisions that seemed stupid to me.  I didn't go through her experiences so I don't know if I would react the same if I had.  I just think she had gotten so far in life on her own hard work that I couldn't understand why she would give up something so huge just to be taken care of by a rich family.  But I quickly got over being mad at her because she redeems herself in the last few chapters.  Lately I've been able to guess lots of plot points before they happen, but this book was very unpredictable.  It was nice to be surprised for once!  I don't think anyone would guess what the Radcliffes were up to.  

Overall, I enjoyed how different this book was from everything else I've ever read.  I have never had so many questions before while reading, but thankfully they were mostly all answered in the end.  I wonder if there will be a sequel since it is left somewhat open ended.  If you like suspenseful, dark and eerie books, with a little mystery this is definitely a good book to try.

This book comes out tomorrow July 3, 2012.

Marta Acosta
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.
-Chapter 1 Dark Companion

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