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I Belong

Early Review: Blythewood by Carol Goodman

Title: Blythewood

Author: Carol Goodman

GenreYA Paranormal

Series: Blythewood (Book 1)

Publication Date: October 8, 2013

FormatHardcover, 496 Pages

ISBN-10: 0670784761 (Penguin Teens)

ISBN-13: 978-0670784769 (Penguin Teens)

Reviewed by:  Bridget


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.

Quick & Dirty: Great YA paranormal filled with mystery, romance, and magic.  It had a slow start but once it gripped me I couldn’t put it down.

Opening Sentence: I heard the bells that morning as I was entering Washington Square Park.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

Avaline Hall is 17 years old and getting ready to attend Blythewood, a very elite boarding school.  Ava’s mother attended Blythewood as a girl, but she was expelled her senior year for getting pregnant out of wedlock.  Ava was raised by just her mother and she has never known the identity of her father.  She grew up poor, but she was very happy.  Then suddenly her mother started to drink heavily, and eventually it killed her.  Ava was forced to find work in a factory so she could survive on her own.  She was a seamstress, it was hard work but it paid the bills.  Shortly after Ava started her new job a stranger seeks her out, and starts a terrible fire that kills almost all of the people she works with.  Ava was rescued by a mysterious person with wings.  Afterward she was taken to a hospital and deemed insane because of what she claimed had happened during the fire and her escape.

Ava is released from the asylum by her grandmother. Ava has never met her grandmother.  Her grandmother disowned her mother when she got pregnant and has not spoken to her since.  Ava’s mother came from a very rich family and now that she is an orphan her grandmother feels an obligation to help take care of her.  She decides to send her to Blythewood and hopes that she can become a well breed member of society.  Upon arriving at Blythewood Ava realizes that it isn’t just a school.  It is full of secrets and magic.  Ava has so many unanswered questions about her past and she hopes that within the walls of Blythewood she can find some of those answers.  But the more she digs the more dangerous her situation becomes.

Ava was a fun character to get to know.  She has a lot of determination.  Much of her past is a mystery to her and she won’t stop until she finds some answers.  While at Blythewood she learns a lot about herself as a person.  She makes some new friends that really help her get through some of the tough times.  She also meets some boys that pull at her heart in ways that she has never felt before.  Overall, as a character I found her interesting and very likeable.  She has a strong voice throughout and I can’t wait to read what happens next in her story.

There are a lot of secondary characters that play an integral part in the story.  Ava’s roommate Daisy and Helen become her good friends. Daisy comes from a poor family and she was lucky to get a scholarship to Blythewood.  She is a sweet and very caring person.  Helen on the other hand comes from a very wealthy family from New York. She has lived a very privileged life, but she is a very loyal friend. Nathan is the son of the Headmistress and the only boy attending Blythewood.  He was kicked out of the boarding school he was attending and got special permission to attend Blythewood.  He is a mysterious boy that seems to care about Ava.  She has a hard time reading him, but she feels a connection with him. Last but not least we have Raven.  He is the mystery boy that saved Ava’s life in the fire.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m not going to go into detail about his story, but I have to say he is a total hottie.  I love him and Ava together and I am totally cheering for him. These are just a few of the characters and there are many more that I didn’t mention.

This was a fun read for me. I really enjoyed the magical setting and mystery.  The characters were very engaging and easy to connect with.  There isn’t a lot of romance but it was sweet and a great setup for the next book.  There were some good plot twists and once I got into the book it was hard to put down.  My biggest complaint was that this book was 500 pages and there were times when it felt like it.  There were moments that really dragged and I had a hard time getting into the story.  It took me about half the book to really get into the story which was a little hard for me.  The ending was a little abrupt and left you wanting more. Overall, this was a great read for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys YA Paranormal with a wonderful magical setting.

Notable Scene:


I heard Tillie’s voice and looked back to see her on the edge of the roof reaching for me…and someone emerging from the smoke behind her.  It was the man in the Inverness cape. He was looking up at me, but he had his hand on Tillie’s back. His lips parted and a wisp of smoke curled out of his mouth. He smiled wider, revealing a gullet of full of smoke and flames, and then he pushed Tillie off the roof.

I screamed and reached for Tillie. The ladder cracked beneath my feet. I was falling. I felt the air billowing around me, tugging at my clothes, my shoulder blades tingling as if they wanted to break through my skin, as if I’d already hit the pavement and all my bones had shattered. The sky stretched out above me.

And then I felt those strong hands around my waist again, and instead of sky I was looking into dark eyes flecked with gold and, beyond those eyes, black wings spreading over us like a mantle. Like the blessed oblivion of sleep. I closed my eyes to fall into that darkness and was instead lifted into a blinding light.

Blythewood Series:

1. Blythewood

FTC Advisory: Viking Juvenile/Penguin provided me with a copy of Blythewood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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