Beautiful Darkness

In a young adult literary world where mortal girls seem to be constantly falling for immortal, perfect boys, the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is wonderfully refreshing, and number two of the series, Beautiful Darkness is no exception.

Synopsis from Goodreads: "Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Firstly, the series is written from mortal Ethan's point of view, and while he doesn't appear to be the most 'manly' of male characters out there, it makes for a nice change. Secondly, he falls in love with Lena, who is the paranormal (a Caster who is basically a witch) of the story, and as a character, she is far from perfect. In fact, in Beautiful Darkness it almost gets to the point where she is a tad annoying and as a reader I was (almost!) rooting for Ethan to dump her and turn to another major female character. Ethan's character however has just the right amount of teen angst, heroism and general likability to make him one of those protagonists that sticks with you for a long time.

Beautiful Darkness is the sequel to Beautiful Creatures, which I enjoyed, but didn't find particularly special. Beautiful Darkness seems to step it up a notch and I found myself fully engrossed in the authors' world building. The setting is gothic, haunting, and so well dispersed throughout the novel (rather than being info dumped in chunks) that I really felt like I was walking through the world with Ethan and Lena. The southern setting is probably one of the most unique aspects of the novel, since at times the plot did seem a little formulaic, but the setting alone makes both novels a worthwhile read.

Beautiful Darkness does feel like the 'middle book' of the series, where they fall in love in the first book, fight in the second, and most likely, fall in love again in the third. Beautiful Darkness was also very long, and could have been condensed. The plot doesn't really kick in until about 150 pages in, but when it does it picks up the pace dramatically. The last third of the novel is filled with enough action to satisfy anyone, and it is crafted with so much tension that I literally could not put it down until I got to the end.

The Caster Chronicles series is a worthwhile read so far, and even if you don't find #1,
Beautiful Creatures to your liking, I do recommend Beautiful Darkness. It's definitely made me more excited about the 3rd in the series which apparently comes out this year.

7 out of 10 from me. Worth the read.

WritersBlockNZ's Verdict: 7/10



L'Aussie said...

Hey hey JJ that was an awesome review! You made me smile when you were just about rooting for Ethan to dump Lena. Ha! You're probably right with what you expect to read in the third in the series? Will you read/review that too?

WritersBlockNZ said...

I'll definitely read it when it comes out, and I'll probably review it as well :)

Sylvia Ney said...

This blog is a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing - Maybe one of my books will be on here one day. ;-)

Dawn Embers said...

Great review. I'm curious about the first book now since I haven't read it and would have to read that first but the series will be added to my list of books to consider.

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