Friday, June 1, 2018

Release Day Review: A Light Amongst Shadows (Dark is the Night Book 1) by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

A Light Amongst Shadows (Dark is the Night Book 1)
by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

Release Date: June 1st, 2018

James Spencer is hardly the typical troubled youth who ends up at Whisperwood School for Boys. Instead of hating the strict schedules and tight oversight by staff, James blossoms, quickly making friends, indulging in his love of writing, and contemplating the merits of sneaking love poems to the elusive and aloof William Esher.

The rumours about William’s sexuality and opium reliance are prime gossip material amongst the third years…rumours that only further pique James' curiosity to uncover what William is really like beneath all that emotional armor. And, when the normally collected William stumbles in one night, shaken and ranting of ghosts, James is the only one who believes him.

James himself has heard the nails dragging down his bedroom door and the sobs echoing in the halls at night. He knows others have, too, even if no one will admit it. The staff refuses to entertain such ridiculous tales, and punishment awaits anyone who brings it up.

Their fervent denial and the disappearance of students only furthers James’ determination to find out what secrets Whisperwood is hiding...especially if it prevents William and himself from becoming the next victims.

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4.5 Stars!

I will start by saying that I requested this book because I loved the blurb. If you follow my reviews, you know I love historical romances, and this while this is one, it's also YA and horror, which aren't exactly my favorites. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked in A Light Amongst Shadows.

The story follows James Spencer, who was transferred to the Whisperwood School for Boys for his third year of studies and William Esher, one of his fellow students, who has sparked rumors around school concerning an opium dependency and his sexuality. James is easygoing and nice and quickly makes friends with his roommate, Oscar Frances and his group. William catches James's eye and he makes an effort to befriend the quiet boy, until William finally joins their group, much to the other boys' dismay, at least at first.

There are many secrets hidden in the school's walls, though, and James is especially intrigued by the ghosts he's seen in the halls of their dormitory and after, by Oscar's disappearance, despite the headmaster's reassurances that he just went back to his family. James knows better, though, and starts researching, and soon William and James are involved in something that might potentially endanger them.

I loved James and William and while they were opposites, one easygoing and friendly, the other introverted and reserved, they complemented each other. Perhaps because of what they'd gone through—James with a traumatic event in his past and William, addicted to laudanum to calm his anxiety—or a byproduct of the era, they were very mature 17-year-olds. They were so sweet and I would swoon at how they caring and supportive they were with each other. While there's very little heat in this book, it didn't really need it in my opinion. I loved that James would recite or write poetry to William and that William would turn into a puddle of goo whenever James was nearby. It was romantic and just perfect for them.

I adored Oscar, James's roommate, and I was heartbroken by what happened to him. And I really liked their group of friends, who, even if weren't all that supportive at first, came through for James and William in the end, including Virgil and Mr. Hart and Mr. McLachlan.

I hated Mr. King, the headmaster and Charles Simmons, and the very evil Mordaunt, who was scary as all hell. I wished the headmaster would've suffered a bit more, but other than that, I was satisfied with the end result.

The ghosts' storyline was amazingly well done, very original, intriguing and full of suspense, as was the story in general, and while there were a few parts that were perhaps a bit overly descriptive, I was still captivated by the book and its characters. This is my first book by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood, but I loved their writing style, it was seamless and flowed well, and I'll definitely be looking forward to more books in this series.

*** Copy provided to the reviewer for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

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