Jane Williams is determined to make something of her life.
Orphaned at age six, passed through foster homes, she has learned to survive in different situations. But it was when her foster brother Hosea died that the anger inside of her fully formed – and she became focused on getting out of Helmsdale.
It was harder for her than others. Jane wasn’t naturally smart; she has to work for it. Ask questions that made her look dumb, steel herself against the snickers. But with time Jane had succeeded to become one of the best students at her local high school – and when she was offered a chance to have a full scholarship at the exclusive Birch Grove Academy she jumps at it.
She can finally get out.
At first, Birch Grove Academy is everything she could hope for and more. She’s astounded to find she’s starting to make friends with girls she never would have imagined she’s get along with. She’s even tutoring the headmistress’s phenomenally good-looking son Lucian.
She’s out of Helmsdale.
Soon, though, questions begin to arise.
Like, what happened to the last scholarship girl? And why does a teacher’s wife’s suicide, which took place before she arrived, seem suspicious to Jane? Or why does Jack, Lucian’s darker, wilder brother, seem to dislike Jane so much?
Something doesn’t feel right at Birch Grove Academy.
Jane decides to figure out what’s going on… but when she finds out, would she ever risk leaving Birch Grove to go back to her life before?
Dark Companion is a very different novel. I had some mixed feelings about it – and was initially concerned because I saw some not so favorable ratings of it (which I try to avoid before reading a book but this time it kind of popped out at me without me looking).
The prologue gives way to a certainly dramatic, gritty beginning as Jane says goodbye to the place she’s grown up in – without any nostalgia. Once we get to Birch Grove Academy there is a mysterious, eerie fog that hangs over everything. There’s a recurring theme of casually mentioned raw, bloody, or undercooked meat that was kinda freaking me out. Done pretty effectively.
When we meet Jacob, or Jake, I liked how quick-witted he is – his clever teasing make him appealing. In fact, many of the characters are amazingly gifted in the art of conversation. The dialogue, while unrealistic in the modern age, couldn’t help but pull me in – recalling to mind gothic novels of another era. I couldn’t help but like it. I wish we did talk like this!
As Dark Companion gets darker and more frustrating, Jane’s insecurities and inner desperation for love get her into a dangerous, menacing situation. I had to remind myself to give her the benefit of the doubt because of her terrible upbringing – but at times I just wanted to shake some sense into her.
With time and patience, though, I did feel Dark Companion had some very creepy revelations that made for a compelling, unique novel. There was something I really did like about it – very atmospheric and melancholy.
The novel’s biggest weakness is Jane’s weakness – so if you, like me, can try to give her the leeway of the damage done to her by a childhood without love or attention, I think you can find a very page-turning read in Dark Companion.