Friday, 1 June 2012

REVIEW: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion 
Author: Marta Acosta
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Tor/Macmillan
Amazon Pre-order: Dark Companion
Release Date: 3rd July 2012

Synopsis (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?

REVIEW: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Dark Companion was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Tor/Macmillan.

Jane Williams has had a hard life, moved from one foster place to the next since her parents died when she was quite young she is hardened and protective but she has worked hard with her studies and has earned a place on a full scholarship at an exclusive all-girls school in Birch Grove getting her away from the dangers of Helmsdale.

At Birch Grove, Jane is given her own cottage, living expenses and the promise of a decent education; it’s a life she has always dreamed of but there is more going on at Birch Grove academy than meets the eye and I must admit I was clueless – I had myself questioning whether it was a paranormal I was reading or not since it took a while to find this out, it was alluded to but nothing was concrete. I was surprised by what it actually was and appreciated the turn of events.

I won’t go into too many plot details so as to avoid spoilers but Dark Companion is a book that although kept me engrossed wasn’t one I immediately loved. It had quite a dark and eerie feel to it, the setting was detailed and gave me the creeps but it was also vivid and gave me the perfect glimpse of Birch Grove (and Helmsdale for that matter), its hidden secrets and the mystery surrounding not only the academy but also the disappearance of another scholarship student as well as the death of a teacher.

Brothers Lucian ‘Lucky’ and Jacob ‘Jack’ Radcliffe both reside at Birch Grove since their mother is the headmistress, they are a family with big secrets and have plans for Jane, and I was really surprised by what this was and was actually cringing in parts; more so because I felt Jane had chosen the wrong brother and also because she accepted their terms all too quickly.

Our main protagonist is somewhat of a cynic and speaks her mind which I appreciated but I didn’t instantly connect with her, I also found her gushing over Lucky a tad annoying; his ‘abuse’ I found sickening but she found him to be the ants’ pants. As for other secondary characters, I absolutely loved Jack from the very first moment he opened his mouth, I loved the banter between him and Jane as well as the way he protected her; another favorite was Mary Violet Holiday who I thought was an absolute classic, I would so love a best friend like her! Hattie also grew on me as the story progressed.

The plot twists and turns had me wanting to know much more and kept the pacing flowing well and I enjoyed Ms Acosta’s writing style which was engaging and entertaining, the premise of Dark Companion was intriguing.

Overall, I enjoyed this book; the mystery and happenings at Birch Grove kept me engrossed as did each of the characters – some more so than others. It does have a dark-ish feel to it so may not be for everyone but I really liked it none the less.


  1. ooh, so glad you liked this one! It's been on my radar for a while and I'm excited to give it a try when it comes out :)

  2. Oh, this one sounds interesting, although from that cover I wouldn't have imagined that this book has anything to do with a school!


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