Author: Marta Acosta
Where I got it: From NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review
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?
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from Dark Companion when I selected it and started reading. Mystery, sure, but certainly not the long standing secrets of Birch Grove, or the hilariously funny and endearing cast of characters. These are good things! This went from a book that I totally picked because of the cover and a vaguely intriguing synopsis to one that I thoroughly enjoyed and didn’t want to end.
Jane’s a foster kid with missing memories and a chip on her shoulder. She’s been working hard to succeed against the odds of her troubled life, and has received a scholarship to Birch Grove, where she’ll have access to all the resources the school can offer. Except that there’s obviously something shady going on at the school, and somehow it involves the scholarship program…
Before I got completely intrigued by the inner workings of Birch Grove, I fell completely in love with the characters in Dark Companion – Jane is totally my kind of girl and I completely identified with her from word one. She’s smart, she works hard, and she wants to succeed, but she’s not nasty about it. When she meets a group of friends at the school, we’re introduced to a widely varied cast of characters that each have their own role and personality, without being impossible to follow or overbearing. They’re all different, and they all have their quirks, which is a really nice thing to see in YA.
The atmosphere, growth, and discovery in this book are only enhanced by the paranormal elements, and there’s plenty of mystery and teen spats to keep you interested to the very end. I was completely surprised by the departure from typical YA paranormal themes, and this book was completely refreshing.