Book Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
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.
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.
Beautiful Darkness is just what the title suggests. Beautifully written, entirely atmospheric, eerie, enchanting yet sweet at the same time. The elegance of a Southern small-town setting and the plain sweetness of the romance is more evident in BD than in the first book, Beautiful Creatures.
Ethan and Lena have been through a lot together, already. So Ethan is rather hurt and confused at the way Lena seems to be pulling away from him after her Uncle Macon’s death. He has a feeling she isn’t telling him something, which only intensifies as each day passes and Lena keeps pulling further apart from him. The “Kelting” (or mind-speak between them) seems to have shut down too. When Lena gets into trouble with her Dark Caster mother, Sarafine, it’s up to Ethan, his best friend Link, a British bookworm (and interesting new character) Liv, and Lena’s cousin Ridley, the “good” Siren to go deep into the strange and eerie Caster world and save her.
PLOT AND CHARACTERS
Some people may comment at this point that they find a male point of view too strange in a paranormal romance. In fact, what I would give Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl credit is for pulling it off so well. Ethan is real and believable completely. Every feeling of his is well-written, and he’s a very lovable character- the kind that would make you stick to finishing a book even if the story sucks, although BD is a beautiful book in terms of plot too.
The Caster universe is way more exciting than the first time. Every character gets a deeper look-into, including Ethan’s dead mother, Lila Jane. Amma remains her indomitable yet lovable self, but I found myself sort of annoyed at Lena for the first half of the book. Truth be told, I liked the girl Liv too much. It’s not just Ethan who has a new girl in his life- it’s Lena too, and this other character is called John Breed.
Beautiful Darkness does go a little predictable with the introduction of these two complexities- John and Liv- and we all knew that something was different about Ethan too, so no surprises there.
What’s best about BD is the world-within-world thing that’s written so well in this book. It reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson, jumping headlong from one troubling situation to another, although this had an all-different strange specialty about it.
Thought Sarafine was badass? Welcome Abraham Ravenwood. The new villain promises to be exciting as well.
All in all- a wonderful, totally-worth sequel to the lovable BC, with the same Southern setting (loved and hated Gatlin at the same time…) , the same wonderful characters and the much-improved description of the Caster world.
First of all, I have to admit that even if the cover had totally been awful, I wouldn’t have cared. Because the first book was called Beautiful Creatures…and it just sounded really weird. Beautiful Darkness is so, so much a better name that I’m relieved beyond an overwhelming level.
The cover is just so-so. The font looks good, the background too strange for my liking, maybe because I never liked photo negatives anyway.
“I used to think our town, buried in the South Carolina backwoods, stuck in the muddy bottom of the Santee River valley, was the middle of nowhere”
Author Website here