Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really hope this is a one-off, because it really doesn't need to be part of a series!
Orphan Jane (like Eyre, only in California and we do get a sense of what she looks like) is suddenly granted a scholarship to a chichi prep school, living expenses and a new status as an emancipated minor - although, as anyone whose previous life was in the foster system, she wonders "why me?" Once at Birch Grove she meets the Headmistress' sons, Jacob and Lucian and falls for... well, it's clear that she's infatuated with Lucky (he's gorgeous) but Jake does something to her (infuriates her, confuses her, stalks her, nicknames her Halfling). She also finds friends and seems to settle down.
Of course, this is a Gothic/semi-vampire book so things are never what they seem and Jane's life becomes more complicated and fraught than one might have imagined. As in Jane Eyre there's a climactic fire scene, but that's pretty much it for the comparisons. The Gothic part is really pretty mild, with none of the heart-thumping that, say, Victoria Holt produces (or Jane Eyre, for that matter). The quotations at the start of each chapter may lead readers to search out other Gothic novels if they don't already know them). Mary Violet deserves a book all unto herself, particularly those French translations!
The cover is a bit off, and I hope this isn't the final artwork. Jane is pixie-like, with brown hair, brown eyes and light brown skin, thanks to her part-Mexican mother (the rest of her is anyone's guess, although MV's Laplander is probably out). Why not highlight that on the cover? This person looks a tad light...
ARC provided by publisher.
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