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Early review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

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Synopsis from Goodreads
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?

Release date: July 3rd 2012.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository US/UK | Fishpond


* * *
 Simply put, Dark Companion is an enchanting Gothic read, deliciously reminiscent of Jane Eyre.

There is this young orphan girl, who is given a magic ticket out of a hellhole she is living in to go to a posh privileged all-girl school. She is damaged, desperately in need of being loved and has a very cynical view of life.

It's marvellous to see Jane growing as a character throughout of the book. She meets someone who we, readers, think will be perfect for her, - Jack. Charming, kind, full of wit and eccentricity, talented musician with a strong moral code of what's right or wrong...

...and instead she falls for a totally selfish, childish, needy jerk slash golden boy of Birch Grove - moody, mercurial, slightly cruel and weak Lucky. Why? Because he needs her, and poor unstable, angry, vulnerable Jane falls into a trap of every abusive relationship that ever happened. She equals selfish need to love.

Marta Acosta manages to show this sense of wrongness really well, and I was struggling through most of the plot with Jane's choices, but still I could understand why she was making them. 


When at some point Jane runs away from the Academy, and we see the stark reality of the streets she comes back to, the similarities with Bronte's work ends, because Jane comes back on her own terms, and stronger for it. This is the breaking point of her change. Everything after that makes her see her situation as it is. She is being used and abused and it's up to her to make the right choices.

Secondary characters in Dark Companion are to die for. Mary Violet very much reminded me of Nancy, - another character from Marta's adult series.

Grandmere calls me Marie-Violette and she‘s always asking me about my beaux, which is French for sleazebags with trust funds.
She is full of spark and incredible wit, crazily funny and writes poems about everyone. Most of the girls in Birch Grove are fantastic characters, and the banter between them  and Jane is fabulous to read.

Jack is an absolute cutester, and my heart was with him from the very beginning. The book itself is spooky and full of dark undertones reminiscent of Morganville Vampires and Incubus by Carol Goodman.

Also, Ian Ducharme makes a cameo appearance. SQUEEEEE! I love him. If you haven't read Marta's hilarious Casa Dracula series, you MUST. He is gorgeous, insightful charmer with a dangerous reputation of an executioner among the vampires, and his nickname is Dark Lord *snorts*

Overall, Dark Companion is a complex and beautiful read full of shades of gray and uneasy moral choices, charming and haunting.

* * *
Замечательная готичная книга, но книга не для всех.

Джейн Уильямс как персонаж списана во многом с Джейн Эйр, и сама Марта Акоста это открыто признаёт. Она психологически хрупка, несмотря на свою натуру циника и толстую кожу  ребёнка, росшего в приёмных семьях, в ней много гнева и отчаянного желания быть нужной, важной и любимой.

Когда Академия Берёзовой Рощи предлагает ей грант на обучение в её стенах, Джейн ухватывает свой шанс выбраться из криминального района своего города и особо не ищет причины почему её выбрали.

В академии она оказывается быстро окружена блестящими, талантливыми подругами (Мэри-Вайолет особо прекрасна) и страстно желает, чтобы на неё обратил внимание один из сыновей директрисы - испорченный, капризный, слабый и жесткий золотой мальчик, Люциус, он же Лаки...

...когда нам, как читателям стазу же понятно, что ей больше подходит Джэк - очаровательный и экцентричный музыкант, приёмный сын директрисы.

Но в таком вот выборе сказывается сама натура Джейн, - она не уверена в себе и выросла в тени неуравновешенных нестабильных отношений. Чтобы чувствовать себя любимой она должна чувствовать себя нужной, и в этом и заключается природа её отношений с Лаки - он её просто использует и этого не скрывает.

Только когда Джейн открывает тайну Берёзовой Рощи и убегает домой, наступает перелом в её восприятии себя и своей ситуации. В отличии от Джейн Эйр, Джейн Уильямс возвращается и пытается взять свою жизнь и сделанные ею ошибки под контроль.

Тёмная, сложная и очень интересная книга с прекрасными второстепенными персонажами и неожиданным появлением Иана Дючарма, которого я просто обожаю по серии Марты Акосты Каза Дракула. Рекомендую.
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