Publishing Date: December 2
Genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction, gothic
Avaline Hall is no ordinary girl.
She’s a student at Blythewood Academy, an elite boarding school that trains young women to defend human society from the shadowy forces that live among us. After the devastating events of her first year at Blythewood, Ava is eager to reunite with her friends—and with Raven, the compelling but elusive winged boy who makes her pulse race. She soon discovers, though, that the sinister Judicus van Drood hasn’t finished wreaking havoc on Blythewood—and wants to use Ava and her classmates to attack a much bigger target.
Ava’s the only one with any hope of stopping van Drood. But to scuttle his plans, she must reveal her deepest secret to everyone at Blythewood. What’s she willing to sacrifice to do what’s right—her school? Her love? Or her life?
Avaline ended her first year at Blythewood with more than just the knowledge that fairies exist in our world — she knows who (or rather what) her father is. A tumultuous summer break leaves Ava nostalgic for the comforts of Blythewood and all it entails: routine, classes, her friends Daisy and Helen, and Raven, the Darkling who works so hard to convince her that not all Fae are evil. But returning to Blythewood actually leaves Ava more haunted than relieved, for Judicus van Drood has a sinister plan in mind, one that will destroy the school and leave any remaining girls exhausted, torn, and ruined. The only solution Ava can see is revealing her true nature, no matter the consequences.
Gosh, if you thought Blythewood was magical and enchanting and touching in a way that only Harry Potter and A Great and Terrible Beauty could be, then you’ll fall head over heels for this. Amp up the gothic melodrama, throw in history of magic, allude to historical disasters to come and connect our world with that of the Fae, and you’ve got yourself Ravencliffe. While the first book met the standard expectations of typical Gothic literature, this one met every single point on target: the adventure, the heightened emotions, coincidences and quick solutions, and an all-encompassing romance.
Do not devour this book all at once. Because of the heightened melodrama, the mix of so many new characters and settings, and one disaster piling on top of another (which leads to an inevitable explosion of an ending), it can feel like too much too soon if read quickly. Savor it. Enjoy it. Live each chapter. The best way to enjoy a book such as this is to take it slowly.
For a concrete portion of a review — rather than my vague, cautionary ramblings and excitement over the fantastical — allow me to praise Goodman’s ability to keep the romance distinctly triangle-less. Ava is torn not between two boys — one human and one Darkling — but between two lifestyles: to accept the portion of herself that is Darkling, and therefore face potential exile from the human and Darkling worlds, or to shun that portion of herself and remain steadfastly human. That being said — and as real and honest and beautiful as her relationship is with Raven — I will not deny Nathan’s affections for her. It’s clear he prefers her company to others girls’ yet every interaction felt incredibly platonic. Thank goodness. The love they share for one another runs like siblings’ love. Also, every encounter Ava has with female Darklings and Raven cracked me up — it’s so typical for a girl, the way her mind jumped to unreasonable jealousy, and then mental slapping for ever thinking such a thing.
This book is so much more than the romance, but I cannot delve too far into it without giving away major plot points. More magical creatures, more magical places, more ominous events tied to actual history, more self-discovery, more characters outside the Order, more alliances, more everything. It’s remarkable. I’m excited to see where Goodman takes us next.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Viking for review!