Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion
by Marta Acosta

Published by Tor Teen
on July 3, 2012

Source: Source: e-ARC from NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure statement here.




My summary: When hard luck foster kid Jane Williams is offered a scholarship at the elite Birch Grove Academy, she gladly accepts. The school is nothing like what she's used to, and Jane feels plain and unsophisticated compared to her glamorous classmates. Jane gets to know the headmistress, Mrs. Radcliffe, and her two sons, the dazzling Lucky and the ruggedly handsome Jack. But soon Jane begins to sense that all is not right at her new school.

My take: From the cover illustration and blurb, I assumed that  Dark Companion must be a paranormal. Now that I've read it, and given the quotes that open each chapter, I'd say the author was obviously influenced by nineteenth-century Gothic fiction.


The similarities to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte are striking. Both Jane Eyre and Jane Williams come from modest means and were bullied as children. Neither Jane feels beautiful and both suffer from low self-esteem as a result. Both meet mysterious men while walking in the woods. Jane Eyre causes Rochester to fall off his horse and sprain his ankle. Jane Williams causes a guy on a bike to swerve to avoid hitting her; he injures his knee. Both Janes fall in love and then are shocked and repulsed when they discover dark secrets about the guy they're in love with. Both Janes run away in horror, then have to find the strength to stand up for themselves.

Gothic fiction does often involve the supernatural, and Dark Companion does have the requisite Gothic ghost. But Dark Companion also offers real-world explanations for some of the story's strange goings-on. And some of the goings-on in this book are strange indeed, including some kinky stuff that might make this book a better fit for older teens and/or adults who aren't excessively squeamish.

That stuff didn't bother me too much, but Dark Companion had another love-it-or-hate-it kind of quirk: odd, contrived dialogue. Many of the characters are really long-winded and love nicknames and wordplay. Sometimes it amused me, but at other times it got to be bit a little much.

Dark Companion is probably not going to be for everyone. I love Gothic fiction and always appreciate a new take on the genre -- if you feel the same, give this book a try!



21 comments:

  1. I haven't heard much about this book and I was kind of interested until you hinted at what the dark secret its-I might be too squeamish. On the other hand, I do love wordplay and clever writing so that part might really work for me. I probably won't seek this out but if I saw it at the library, I might give it a try. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Just wanted to give people a heads-up -- to me, it did seem more .... adventurous than the typical YA, but there may be lots of people who don't bat an eye at the whole thing.

      Definitely give it a try if you love Gothic books. There are a LOT of hints as to what the secret is, and you can decide if it's too out-there for you.

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  2. This sounds really great!! I have been wanting to read this one. I love darker gothic type novels so I think this would be a book I would enjoy.

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    1. Yep -- if you like Gothic and darker, definitely try this one.

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  3. Oooohh...I am so intrigued! This is totally now on the TBR list, bumped way up. I love when the YA books push it just a little, get dark, go THERE (where is there? that's the great mystery!). I am not remotely squeamish so I say bring it on! I also love some great word play and Gothic ghost stories. The nicknames will get old for me but I will try to ignore that part.

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  4. Yea the title and cover do indicate a paranormal read but its cool that it isn't. I haven't read Gothic fiction so I am definitely going to want to read this.

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  5. Okay I was totally never interested in this one before because I thought it was steeped in the Paranormal. But I am a major Jane Eyre fan and the similarities between the two have really piqued my intrest. I think I will brave the dialogue and give this one a try. I am so glad you featured it this week!

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    1. Yes -- please read it and let me know what you thought !!

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  6. I am a bit squeamish. I might pass.

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  7. I'll maybe give it a try. Now I'm interested! :)

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    1. Yes -- let me know your thoughts after you read it!

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  8. Oh wow, yeah, I would never have guessed that'd be a Jane Eyre-ish story...Very interesting. Although, I guess I can kinda see how they could take JE and slant it to get that paranormal vibe that is selling so well right now - then whoosh! Classic Lit is in your face before you realize it, haha...

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  9. I've never read this one and not sure how I feel about gothic fiction, but I'm definitely intrigued by this one. I might give it a try.

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  10. Ooh, I really want to give this one a try now! I knew this book was a gothic romance, but I had no idea it was Jane Eyre based, which makes me feel kind of stupid now... I've read the novel and watched the most Jane Eyre recent movie that came out last year and enjoyed them both. Add some lengthy wordplay, a 'mysterious man' with some dark secrets and update the plot-line to a modern, elite academy and I'm hooked!

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  11. This sounds absolutely amazing! I don't know but there's something about foster home and parents that always tug at me. Yes, I'm weird that way :)
    And everyone seems to love it. Will definitely give it a try!!

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  12. A Jane Eyre retelling? A 19th century Gothic inspired storyline? BRING IT ON, BABY. Sold. I've seen this one but had no idea it had these two things going for it! Oh, and I'm ok with the kinky stuff (ahem) so it sounds like a winner all around:) adding it to the TBR list:)

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  13. Hmm. I love gothic and I love Jane Eyre, so even though I might not like the kinky stuff I'll probably give it a try.

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