Something Wicked Day #12 is here! Are you caught up on all the guest posts and giveaways? Since it is Saturday, hopefully if you have missed a few you can catch up and enter all the great book giveaways. Now just because it is the weekend, don't think for one minute I am slacking on the goodies. I have a phenomenal new book to introduce you to today, especially if you are fan of boarding school books with a dash of magic and a heavy dose of mystery... I am talking about Carol Goodman's Blythewood. Now many of you have probably read one of Carol's books before but you may not realize it as she writes her adult books under her penname Juliet Dark. In fact, you may remember that I highlighted the last of Juliet/Carol's books in her Fairwick Chronicles just recently when I did my post for Angelstone. I was surprised when Carol contacted me and told me she had a YA novel coming out in October. If you are a fan of The Fairwick Chronicles by Juliet Dark. I am certain you will enjoy this exciting YA tale. Let me first reintroduce you all to Carol Goodman:
Carol Goodman (her pen name is Juliet Dark) is the author of eight novels including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, Demon Lover and Water Witch. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her family. Find Carol/Juliet on her website,Facebook and Goodreads.
Please welcome Carol:
My heroine Avaline Hall faces many dangers in my new young adult novel BLYTHEWOOD. She hears bells in her head, a mysterious man in an Inverness cloak has been following her, and on the morning of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire she sees shadow-demons writhing above the flames. She is put away in a mental hospital and told she’s crazy. Then she finds herself at a girls’ school where there are trolls and goblins and dark-winged creatures in the woods and she’s supposed to learn how to fight them—even the dark-winged boy who saved her from the fire and who makes her heart race. And that man in the Inverness cloak? He’s full of those shadow-demons and he’s still looking for her. But what she fears most is what, in my experience, most of us fear—not fitting in, being different, maybe never finding a place where she belongs.
Not that I didn’t spend a lot of time when I was a teenager purposely trying to be different and acting like I didn’t care about fitting in. I spent a significant part of junior high sitting on top of a radiator writing poetry in my journal, affecting an English accent (imagine how popular that made me!), and wearing Indian kurtas when all the other girls wore Huck-a-Poo shirts (don’t ask, it was the seventies).
I would have told you then that I was a nonconformist and that I didn’t care what people thought of me. And I didn’t—only I wanted to find the few people who would like me even if I was a little strange. I wanted to be seen and loved for who I was, even if I wasn’t quite sure who that was yet. And I was terribly afraid that I never would—that I was unlovable, a monster.
Eventually I found those people. There have never been a lot of them, but I’ve collected one or two from each phase of my life—the other girl writing poetry in high school, the drama major in college who cracked everyone up by wearing rye crusts on her wrists in the cafeteria, the graduate student who introduced herself to class by saying she resented that her mother had named her Cathy and not Catherine—they seemed to like my own little eccentricities and have remained my friends through thick and thin.
It takes Ava a little while to find her circle of friends. When she gets to Blythewood she’s afraid she won’t fit in with the rich girls who grew up in the mansions where she used to deliver hats to the servants’ door. She’s more used to sewing shirtwaists than wearing fine clothes, to scrounging for the month’s rent instead of going to dances and tea parties. Worse, she’s afraid that if anyone knew the things she saw and heard in her head they would think she was crazy. (Aren’t we all?) But little by little, she makes a few friends who are willing to stick by her even if her peculiarities are a little stranger than writing poetry and speaking in a fake accent. And that’s what makes all the scary things bearable—being able to share them with our friends. The terrors that lurk in the shadows aren’t so formidable when we have a friend to hunker down under the covers with, shining our flashlights into the darkness.
I agree, Carol! It takes courage to be different, and it is nice to rely on the comfort of a few good friends. Thank you to Carol for once again posting here on Rainy Day Ramblings. Over the last year, I have become a big fan of Carol's work, and with Blythewood she has given me another magical world that I love, now that her Fairwick Chronicles is finished. I have a chance to win a copy of Blythewood thanks to Carol. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Blythewood(Blythewood #1) by Carol Goodman
Welcome to Blythewood.
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. Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all.
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Viking Juvenile
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Four Stars: A delightful boarding school book with a pinch of magic and a dash of mystery!
Avaline Hall at sixteen is alone since her mother passed away. Ava, though, bravely found employment at the Triangle Waist factory. She spends endless hours sewing seams on sleeves. On this particular day, Ava is madly sewing to meet her monthly quota to make rent. Right before the final bell of the day rings, Ava looks up and sees a strange man in an Inverness Cape talking to her foreman. Warning bells go off in her head, it is the same man that so frightened her mother. Instinctively she looks to hide, a strange boy grabs her hand and urges her to duck down and crawl out. Suddenly, fire breaks out, and Ava and the rest of the girls try to scurry to safety. The mysterious boy guides Ava to the roof, but they are pursued by the man in the cape. Ava climbs to safety on a ladder but then she falls, remembering nothing more. She wakes up in hospital with strange memories. Thankfully, after a few months her grandmother finds her, and Ava discovers she is going to be attending Blythewood her mother's alma mater. Once at Blythewood, Ava learns that things are not as they seem. She is plunged into a world of secrets, magic and mystery. Will Ava learn to still the ringing bells in her head and fit in at Blythewood?
What I Liked:
- I adored the adult series, The Fairwick Chronicles, by this same author and I was sad to see the series end, but thankfully, Ms. Goodman delivers another magical and intriguing YA series that has won me over. This book is packed full of magic, mystery, paranormal and more. It is set in a boarding school at the turn of the twentieth century. The school is steeped in secrets, and there are some startling things waiting to be discovered in the woods. If you are a fan of detailed paranormal books with a boarding school setting, definitely get your hands on this book!
- I loved all the stories, lore and legends incorporated in this book. Ms. Goodman is a master story teller, and I was stunned at the creativity and ingenuity of this book. There is plenty of fresh and new in this one as well as some well loved old themes. I thought the inclusion of the bells was definitely exciting and original, and I adored all the stories.
- The book incorporates many of the themes that were pertinent to the era. Such as the sharp division in classes. Blythewood is known for its long history of elite, high standing wealthy students. It becomes clear that the prejudices and lofty ideas of high society run deep. Many of the girls born in high class families look down their noses at the working class girls. There is also another theme of prejudice that the staff of the school holds against the paranormal entities in the woods and beyond. Are the fey and magical creatures all evil, bent on destroying humans or are some of them good? I liked that this book was about breaking down barriers, and learning to let go of long standing erroneous ideas. It takes courage to break away from traditional ideas, and I admired Ava and the others for learning to see things through unbiased eyes.
- This book is heavily steeped in mystery. Once Ava arrives at the mysterious Blythewood school, you get the strong sense that not everything is as it seems. There is something hiding in the old building, and the new students are soon initiated into Blythewood and all its secrets. I loved the mysterious atmospheric setting and I thoroughly enjoyed uncovering all the magical secrets of Blythewood!
- There are plenty of exciting twists and turn in the stories that will keep you on your toes. I especially liked at the end when the traitor in the school was exposed, I was certainly caught off guard. Ms. Goodman does a terrific job of diverting you from the real culprit. I also liked the big event that was included that occurred in 1912 at the end.
- I appreciated that this reached a satisfying conclusion. There are plenty of unanswered questions lingering for future books, but I was happy that I got a solid ending, no cliffhanger or nagging story lines left undone!
- This is a perfect book for a teenager of any age as there is nothing inappropriate in it. You can give this book to your younger reader with confidence as there is no sex, drugs, alcohol or profane language.
And The Not So Much:
- When Ava first arrives at Blythewood, it is apparent that something disturbing has happened. When it was finally revealed that a girl had gone missing, I was expecting more drama and suspense surrounding this event, but for the most part it was treated like no big deal. I would think that a girl vanishing would be something that would have everyone on edge and on high alert, I was especially disturbed that her mother was not more upset or grieving over her disappearance. I would have preferred more buildup and attention to this event.
- Ava's grandmother suddenly comes to the rescue and scoops her up out of the hospital at the beginning of the book. The grandmother is completely undeveloped and practically nothing is revealed about her. Where was the grandmother all these years? Were she and her daughter estranged? Why did the grandmother not have any contact with Ava before this? I need to know more about the grandmother.
- The romance is not fully developed. There are hints and sparks of attraction throughout, but not until the final pages does it appear to be finding its footing. I am a bit concerned because during the final scenes, it alludes to a possible love triangle. I am hoping that a love triangle does not rear its ugly head in the next installment!
- I was left wondering about Ms. Frost's role in the story. Was she truly innocent and being manipulated? It isn't exactly clear what is going on with her.
Blythewood is a delightful and exciting new YA series that fans of Juliet Dark should snatch up and enjoy. Even though it is a YA book, it is mature, and I think both adults and teenagers will enjoy it! If you love books with a magical and mysterious boarding school setting with plenty of suspense and paranormal, definitely snatch this one up! I highly recommend it!
"Many thought the war was over and that evil had been defeated. But evil is never entirely vanquished; it just goes underground and emerges somewhere else."
"My mother always said that men who oppose women's education are afraid of women becoming too strong because they themselves are too weak."
"I should have been braver, but sometimes the hardest thing to do is to remain yourself."
"Aye lass, that is where I'm from, but your true home is with the ones ye love and I've come to care for the creatures on both sides of the woods."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Have a terrrific weekend, everyone! Be sure to check in with Candace@Candace's Book Blog all next week, she has a week jammed packed full of great posts and giveaways, I will have plenty of more goodies for your next week as well, starting on Monday with Ann Aguirre's Horde!