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 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?
A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!
Marta Acosta's debut novel, DARK COMPANION, is a young adult novel about Jane Williams, a girl whom has just been given a full scholarship at Birch Grove Academy - an elite girl's school that can help her finally get away from the violent slums that she used to live in. But once Jane reaches the school grounds - and while she's making all sorts of friends and falling for boys whom happens to be the sons of the school's Headmistress - she soon realizes that not everything is what it seems at Birch Grove Academy and that the reasoning for why she's really there will soon be unveiled at the most unexpected times.
While I enjoyed the author's writing and how her novel plays out like a classic Gothic novel, however I struggled a lot with this book. Even with a rough beginning, the main problem I had with this book had more to do with the characters than anything else. Like for any reader, the characters are the most important element in a book and are the reasons to why we continue to read a particular storyline and everything in it. Personally for me, the characters in DARK COMPANION were a little bland for my taste and I felt no real connection to any of the characters whatsoever. Even as I read further into this novel, while I did start to become entertained by the plot and its characters, but it was only an "okay read" for me and it remained so when I finished the book. With that said, the only element I found intriguing was the mystery side to Acosta's book and trying to figure out what exactly is going on at Birch Grove Academy, and how Jane came to play a part in this mystery. But with a storyline dragging all too often it just became harder and harder to connect with this book.
Overall, DARK COMPANION will please many readers of the Gothic kind and anyone who loves a young adult story with some cute romance, some dark mysteries, and some pretty twisted magic and plot-turns that you may or may not see coming. While the book didn't necessarily please me like I wanted it to, but don't be discouraged by my review because you should give it a go regardless of what I think of the book! Who knows . . . you might be surprised by it and you may even like it!