Series: Blythewood #1
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.
3.5 Drink Me Potions
Blythewood has elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. A mysterious boarding school with secrets behind its closed doors, fascinating creatures creeping out from the darkness, and whimsical characters that separate themselves from the norm of YA books.
The beginning was a little slow. Ava was still with her mother and working low-paying jobs in a factory at a time where women were trying to gain more attention and the right for votes. It took the story a while to get rolling into the juicy bits, but eventually through devastating acts of terror by a mysterious man wearing a long coat following her around, Ava moves to Blythewood. It’s not just any normal school, and once she passed the initial entry exam, it becomes evident that they teach more than just history and science here.
Blythewood is a school prepping students for battle against the darkness.
The story covers themes like what makes someone good and bad, the light and the dark. Is it what one was born as? Or can it be from the decisions and actions that they make? It was an interesting read, but it also wasn’t heart-poundingly urgent to finish. I took my slow, sweet time with it (and not because I was reading this as my on-vacation book).
One thing that I normally hate is a love triangle, but with Blythewood, I was okay with it. It was barely even there, but it took a long time for our favourite “angel” bad boy, Raven, to be introduced to Ava. So there was normal, human Nathan waiting on the sidelines for a potential love interest, but it’s not like anything really happened. There were just hints that there was interest there.
Then again, it’s not like anything in the romance department really occurred during the book, even with Raven. It was slow and not quite insta-love, although she was definitely intrigued by him. Well, hello, I’m sure anyone would be intrigued by some winged boy who saves you time and again. It doesn’t help that he always comes around without a shirt on either.
As for the total story, the romance wasn’t even the biggest part, for which I’m glad. The background and history into which Blythewood was founded on, and the mission that these girls set out to achieve was imaginative and draws you in.
And at the heart of it, there was always the question as to who that strange man was that showed up around Ava, bringing chaos and fear. I do believe Blythewood is a lovely story that somehow slipped past the majority of YA readers. With intrigue, great bounds of imagination and ties into its historical period, this is one book that kept me reading even though there were plenty of other fun things I could’ve been doing while on vacation.
Blythewood is one of those stories that you wonder why it never blew up into something huge. It contains everything that I enjoy. The mystery of Ava’s mother’s death and the strange man following her around. A boarding school full of secrets that centre around fantastical creatures set out to destroy humankind. And, of course, fun characters and a hint of romance that didn’t make me wanna roll my eyes and skip the pages. What more could anyone ask for? Goodman’s first book in this trilogy is a promising start to crazier antics and more secrets to unfold as we follow Ava into the heart of darkness.