Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
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?
Upon receiving a manuscript of Dark Companion, I had no idea what to expect. I haven't read very many dark, gothic novels, but Dark Companion proved this was a genre to watch! I was hooked by the insane twists and turns that kept me guessing and the mysterious secrets that were revealed as the story progressed. This is a novel I hope will get more hype as its release day approaches, because it is certainly not one to be missed!
Jane Williams is a foster child who has grown up struggling to survive. She is a smart and independent girl, though, and she is lucky to receive an invitation to join the Birch Grove Academy for Girls, or so she thinks. Birch Grove is a web of secrets and mystery, with nothing, or no one, as it seems. Jane is lucky to be befriended by a unique group at the school who take her under their wing. My favorite was Mary Violet. Mary Violet was sweet and endearing and I loved her little witticisms and French sayings.There were several other key characters introduced in Dark Companion- the Radcliffes in particular. Mrs. Radcliffe is the headmistress of the Academy and her two sons (Jack and Lucky) are the only males on campus.
To elaborate, the main character, Jane, was a very unique girl. She was strong and intelligent and yet did not always make the best decisions. I was glad to be able to see her grow over the course of the story and to learn from her different experiences. Jane was thrown into a crazy situation and I did feel for her because she was faced with some hard decisions.
Birch Grove is a nest of secrets and Jane steps right into the middle of them. The more time she spends at the Academy and the more people she meets, the more Jane realizes the truth. And what a shocking truth it was! Dark Companion is such a unique read and it was surprising, addicting, and dark. Marta put a unique twist on Jane Eyre and I had a hard time putting the book down after I got into it.
The Radcliffes were very well done characters; each of them were very developed and although Jack and Lucky were brothers, they were both very different. I didn't understand Lucky's appeal to Jane, as he was very demanding and didn't think about Jane's own feelings. Jack, on the other hand, was a sweet guy and I liked his little nicknames for Jane.
As a whole, Dark Companion is something fresh and twisted in the YA market. The summary is vague on purpose and the more you read of this book, the more you will understand the mysterious things that are happening at Birch Grove. Marta Acosta's young adult debut was very well written and after a slow start I couldn't put this down. Although Dark Companion might not seem like the ideal summer read, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
July 3, 2012/Tor Teen/368 Pages/Young Adult
Source: received manuscript from author