Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Release Date: September 19, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Teen/YA, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Rating: 4 out of 5
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in this series, Beautiful Creatures.
Despite the horrifying events at the end of Beautiful Creatures, Ethan is still completely committed to Lena, sure that he loves her and that they are meant to be together. But Lena doesn’t seem to share that sentiment, as she begins to pull away from Ethan, seemingly blaming herself for the death of her beloved Uncle Macon. Though Ethan fights for Lena, it becomes increasingly clear that she is not giving him a choice in the matter and decides to leave him. However, Ethan is determined to follow Lena to the ends of the earth, desperate to save the girl he loves.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t love the book Beautiful Creatures. I didn’t hate it, and perhaps it was just a case of too high expectations after all the hype, but it just didn’t appeal to me like I thought it would. I was ready to let the rest of the series go until I saw the authors speak. They were so engaging and funny that I became convinced I had missed something in the first book, and so decided to read the second. I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed Beautiful Darkness more than Beautiful Creatures.
Once again, Garcia and Stohl take the reader to the atmospheric southern town of Gatlin, where the Civil War is recent history and the townspeople are unaware there is a supernatural battle being fought right under their noses. In the first book, one of the most redeeming aspects was the incredibly well-written location, and that continues in Beautiful Darkness. I loved the eccentricities of Gatlin; it’s a wonderful creation and a spectacular setting for this series.
This is a YA novel, so of course, it has its share of teen angst. Lena is the definition of angst as she acts out in response to her uncle’s death. While her devastation is easy to understand, her childish behavior isn’t. This became increasingly annoying over the course of the novel, to the point where I breathed a sigh of relief when she left. However, all isn’t what it seemed. There’s a startling revelation about halfway through the book that brings into sharp relief exactly why Lena is so tormented. This was well done, and while her behavior was still annoying, in light of this new knowledge, it was more understandable.
While Ethan’s devotion to Lena isn’t exactly easy to understand (though I found his voice much more believable in this book than in the first), it’s good because it involves him in the fascinating world of the Casters. Garcia and Stohl expand on the mythology of this supernatural culture, and it’s simply fascinating. I loved the gothic nature of this book, and the wildly surprising revelations at every twist and turn. Though I was able to predict one of the big twists in the book, that didn’t bother me because I really loved where the authors went. Though the plot seems meandering at the beginning of the book, it really solidifies as the novel progresses, and becomes very enjoyable.
In short, I’m very glad I gave this series another chance. I found this sequel enjoyable and engaging, and I do love how dark and gothic the series is. I’m looking forward to the next installment, Beautiful Chaos, to see where Ethan and Lena go next.