Image from Author Website
Title: Dark Companion
Author: Marta Acosta
Publication Date: June 2013
Synopsis from Author Website
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends.
She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.
The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place
Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?
As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle,she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….
In all honesty I had no idea this was a re-imaging of Jane Eyre until I started doing my review. Truthfully I am a little glad I didn’t as Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time and while this book is OK I wasn’t blown away by it. I think I would have been further disappointed if I had realized it was a re-imagining.
While I liked the premise of this book for me it did not live up to my expectations. Although it is fast paced, gripping in places I had the overwhelming feeling that the story was trying to be too many things at once.
Told in first person narrative from Jane’s perspective, you can tell there is something far more to Jane than meets the eye; the chilling prologue piquing the imagination. Part of the plot involves the discovery of just what makes Jane different, personally I would have liked this aspect to play a larger role. This element seemed to have got lost in the other plot threads only to re-appear close to the end and in a rushed incomplete manner.
Jane, orphaned at a young age from the horrific events in the prologue, lives in foster care in a very rough neighborhood She is pretty much a product of her environment until tragedy strikes making her re-evaluate her actions.
Gaining a scholarship to an exclusive school, Jane is even given a little cottage in which to live while she is there. As you would expect there is far more to the school than first impressions would assume and yes it is a little predictable. Obvious hints are placed within the narrative leading the plot. Jane’s personality does not reflect the decisions she makes and made me question her validity as a character.
Redeeming qualities come in character form; Jack is the quirky, hot romantic interest and Mary Violet provides some hysterically funny moments as well as a much needed friend for Jane. Their presence helped lift the plot and relieve the tension.
Although there are a number of twists within the story they were in no way unexpected. The story does reach a satisfactory conclusion while leaving scope for a second book with some outstanding plot issues enabling a continuation if the author wishes.
I did have the distinct impression that this book started off in one direction and then tried to work in too many different elements before returning to the original plot, leaving me feeling unfilled.