From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Rebellious London teen Allie Sheridan, 16, has just gotten arrested-again. It's the last straw for her parents, and Allie is shipped off to a mysterious boarding school, Cimmeria Academy. The institution caters to a select crowd of children from elite families; the protagonist has no idea why she's been sent to live among them. Nothing is what it seems at this old-fashioned academy and Allie will have to sort through the lies and dangers to discover the truth about the school, her classmates, and her own family. This supernatural thriller covers fairly well-trod ground: teen relationships, love triangles, and secrets. While the author evokes a suspenseful gothic-style tone, the novel fails to have the tight story arc and writing structure needed to maintain the spooky mood. The first in a series, this book serves to set up intrigue and introduce readers to the main cast of characters, but it leaves many questions unanswered. This title will appeal most to fans of Gabriella Poole's Secret Lives (Hodder & Stoughton, 2009) and Richelle Mead's Bloodlines (Razorbill, 2011).-Stephanie Whelan, New York Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Only gutsy first-time novelists would tackle the well-worn “sinister boarding school” trope, complete with a troubled new girl navigating the social scene and various shadowy dangers. After all, where to go with such familiar ingredients? Yet Daugherty knows exactly where she wants to take us, and soon enough, readers will be hooked. The lean prose certainly helps, as does how the plot is punctuated by several unforgettable scenes of suspense, including a skinny-dipping escapade complicated by a panic attack and a rooftop encounter with a bottle of vodka that ends in . . . well, that would be telling. Connecting such episodes is protagonist Allie Sheridan’s efforts to learn why she was admitted to such an elite institution, and about “Night School,” a shadowy training program within it. If initially some students seem stereotypical, keep reading: Daugherty is expert at revealing character through action. Similarly, Allie can appear too reactive, letting others rescue her—but then she notes this tendency, thereby incorporating it into her character arc. Ultimately, both the story and the writing itself are full of surprises. Grades 9-12. --Peter Gutierrez