Author: Carol Goodman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Source: Book Divas
At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood.
But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes.
There’s a little something in this book for everyone: it’s got some historical fiction awesomeness, some paranormal and fantasy magic, and the perfect amount of romance. That said, I’ll admit I was a little worried I wouldn’t like this book. I tend not to like anything remotely historical fiction-y and haven’t been that interested in paranormal novels of late, but Carol Goodman won me over expertly with this delightfully dark book.
My worries about the book dissolved basically from the first sentence, and I was quickly seduced by Goodman’s beautiful writing. Goodman’s writing is in of itself as romantic as the actual romance, and drew me in with its mysterious undertones.
I also loved the blending of different genres. I love stories that explore alternate histories of real events, so I really enjoyed reading about real historical events with the added element of Goodman’s mischievous faeries. I liked that in addition to the more magical side of the story, Goodman also tackled difficult issues like the treatment of the mentally ill and classism. Normally, I wouldn’t think those issues would make sense in a book that was also about faeries and goblins, but Goodman wove all the elements of her plot together with grace.
In addition, I liked the fact that Goodman included a real variety of female characters. No two characters were alike, so it made Blythewood an even more intriguing, dynamic read. There are probably many more ways to be a woman today than there were back then, but the women of Blythewood were each very unique in their own way. Also, I think it is important to note the strong presence of female friendships in this book, as too often I feel young adult lit pits young girls against each other. I think many women will find themselves in this book, as I did.
In short, this book will appeal to readers from a variety of genres. Goodman’s beautiful writing will reel in many, and it’ll be easy to get lost in the wonderfully imagined, magical world of the Blythe Wood.