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Dark Companion

Dark Companion - Marta Acosta Jane William's life hasn't been the easiest one. Her parents are dead, she's spent most of her life jumping from foster homes, ended up living in violent Helmsdale (aka Hellsdale), and the only best friend she had died. Jane wants out of there, and when they offer her a scholarship at the prestigious Birch Grove Academy for Girls, she takes it. But there's something weird about the town and the academy, and the people seem quite secretive. Jane decides to concentrate on the positive things, like gorgeous Lucian Radcliffe, and maybe even his annoying brother Jack. However, the secrets of Birch Grove are too great to be ignored, and Jane will have to make a choice between this new perfect life, and her old one because being part of the family is a lifelong commitment. Like it's title, Dark Companion is a dark and seductive story, that will shock and captivate you every step of the way. I didn't know what to expect from Dark Companion. The story starts out slowly, but once school starts the story picks up the pace, and man what a pace! Marta Acosta's writing blew me away. The mystery of Birch Grove Academy and its girls is something that isn't revealed at once, and all the time the tension builds and builds. There's a certain creepiness factor to the school, and it would only take a detail here or a word there to achieve that. You're just reading placidly when BAM a single word would bowl you over, the creepiness going off the charts. Jane is a mousy, plain girl, but she is smart, and cunning. She knows there's something going on at the school and she needs to find out what before something happens to her. She makes friends with three girls, Hattie, Mary Violet, and Constance. Mary Violet was my absolute favorite character of the whole book. In fact, so far, she's my favorite YA character this year. She's witty, a bit crazy, but simply fabulous. I totally agree with her dentist theory, her French makes me want to learn a third language, and her poems crack me up. Another character that made me fall in love with him was Jacob (Jack) Radcliffe. He's deliciously scruffy, plays guitar in a band, and says he's like "the king's fool." In literature the king's fool is the only one allowed to make fun of the king while still delivering harsh truths. In every conversation he has with Jane I kept wondering how much was the truth and how much was teasing. And he teases a lot! My only frustration with this story was the romance, or at least one side of it. I have to discuss this, and I apologize for any spoilers. Jane falls head over heels for Lucian (Lucky) Radcliffe. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the situation. I though, here we go again with the naïve, infatuated heroine, but what I found out was actually worse. Jane is a naïve infatuated girl and Lucian turns out to be a special kind of psychotic jerk, and I didn't care if it was a medical condition but the way he enjoyed it really turned my stomach. I know, I know. With no evil there can be no good, so I guess Jane's submissive portrayal and abuse at the hands of Lucky was necessary. But for me it never makes sense when a girl throws herself at some jerkface because they think no one will ever want them. We have a saying where I live, which roughly translates to "Better alone than in bad company." I wish most heroines had the sense to follow that motto. When Jane finally discovers the whole plot and reasons I thought she would put a stop to things, but she agrees to continue! Granted they've promised her everything and more if she stays with Lucky, but at what cost? I do love when she reaches that conclusion, though the change of mind was a bit abrupt. As you can see from what I've discussed so far, Dark Companion has some strong themes. There are scenes with heavy petting and bloodletting, drug and alcohol abuse, and not much is held back. It's dark, it's gritty, but it's real. The end was a surprising mix of shocking discoveries, and happy endings. There was unfinished business in the subplots, which I can only hope means there will be a sequel because, my darlings, as much as I've ranted about some aspects of this novel I have to admit it rocked my world and I would very much like a sequel.*I received this book via Netgalley from the publisher for my honest review*