Night School by C.J. Daugherty

Night School, Book 1

Synopsis: Allie’s world is falling apart… She hates her school. Her brother has run away. She’s just been arrested. Again. And now her parents are sending her away. But instead of hating boarding school, Allie is happy. She’s making friends. And there’s Carter, a brooding loner with whom she feels an instant connection. Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Her classmates – and maybe some of the teachers – are hiding secrets. And soon it begins to fell like a very dangerous place…

Review: This book was on my wish list for a while now so when I had the opportunity to finally buy it I didn’t hesitate.

The story takes place in England. Allie, 16 years old, is a troubled teenager. After the disappearance of her brother, she multiplies acts of delinquency and had been already arrested three times. For her parents, that’s too much. They decided to send her in Cimmeria Academy, a private school that is specialized for teenagers like her, far from London and bad company. Once arrived our heroine is immediately impressed by the enormous manor house that stands before her. Soon she meets the other students in the school, and in particular the attractive Sylvain and the mysterious Carter. Then, strange things start to happen.

So what to say about this book? I must admit I wasn’t expecting to be so surprised by reading this YA novel. It began with the title: Night School. With such a title, I was expecting another story of school for vampires and other supernatural creatures. What a surprise when I realized it wasn’t the case! Despite the fact that the story is replete with disturbing elements that could be called supernatural, we must have read almost ¾ of the novel to eventually realize that this book isn’t a paranormal novel but a thriller.

We’re immediately intrigued by this mysterious and isolated school, a Gothic mansion lost in the forest and where technology doesn’t exist. The rules are strict and the schedules very busy. At first, we expect to see a sort of rehabilitation school for finally realize it’s not that at all. Cimmeria hosts many troubled teenagers, but most of the students come from very wealthy families.

This thriller is very exciting. The author keeps us in suspense from the beginning to the end. The reader doesn’t really know what’s happening. Indeed, the plot is slow to develop and mysteries about this school are numerous. On each page, we try to unravel the secrets of Cimmeria but nothing is revealed. So we continue to turn the pages over and over again in the hope of finally having an explanation but the author continues to leave us in the dark to the point that it’s very frustrating. It’s only in the chapter 22 that we finally know what’s going on. I confess that at this time, I was a little disappointed; I was expecting something more extraordinary.

I loved the descriptions of the Gothic manor house, they help to make this book a scary thriller: we’re both fascinated and terrified by this building with an austere aspect. The characters are very interesting because they also reinforce this frightening atmosphere so particular in this novel. I liked Allie and her determination to get to the bottom of the story. It isn’t easy for her because everyone is lying, she doesn’t know who she can trust, to the point that she becomes paranoid. The other characters are also well worked because with most of them, we don’t really know what to think. Jo seemed lovely at first, but then she turns out to be horrible. Julie and Rachel surprised me however, as for the two boys who gravitate around our heroine, I must admit that I don’t know who my favorite is. At first I had a preference for Carter but in the end, it’s Sylvain who touched me the most. In short, at Cimmeria people aren’t what they seem to be and we shouldn’t be fooled by appearances.

Finally, you’ll understand that this first volume is very successful. The only negative point is the end that still leaves many questions unanswered. So I can’t wait to read the sequel to have more details. 

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