Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Release: October 12th 2010
Genre: Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, YA
#2 in the Caster Chronicles
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.
This book... was a rollercoaster ride.
It starts out kinda boring and not very interesting, much like its predecessor. But after a little while things pick up... and immediately drop again. Around the middle, I had extreme difficulties picking the book up, I dreaded reading it. Because it was just so slow.
Fortunately, if you can get past that point and all the unnecessary melodrama, you shall be rewarded for your efforts. The pace picks up and you get a very nice adventurous journey with some plot twists that I surely did not see coming. Ethan is accompanied by Link, whom we've already met in Beautiful Creatures and see more of in this novel, which I liked a lot and Olivia, a new addition to the cast. Both were very enjoyable characters that helped even out Ethan so much.
So, Ethan wasn't as bad as in Beautiful Creatures, I'll give him that, but he was still annoying. Lena, however, whom I'd actually liked quite a lot in the first novel, was just a total bitch and diva in this one, I couldn't stand her. I know that it went hand in hand with her character development that basically defines the whole book, but the authors could've really done a better job, I'm sure. There was too much drama, overreacting and an air of "Oh she's just such a selfless, sacrificing saint" that was just hypocritical.
The other characters, namely Link and Olivia as well as Ridley were really interesting and fun to see more of. I built a connection with them, I care for them. We also see some characters (again) that we wouldn't have expected, which was nice, especially since there is one character Ethan talks about basically non-stop in the first novel whom we didn't expect to ever meet, but finally do. Very interesting
Beautiful Darkness does have plot holes though. We still don't know how or why Lena is so super darn special, and there are toooons of moments when characters mysteriously appear to save the day (or rather, our main characters) with the only explanation being sometimes abstruse like "We knew we had to be here" or something like that. There was one scene with Aunt Del, where she just helps the Cast with her powers and then they leave early in the morning, leaving her and we don't see her again in the entire novel, ever. No, I'm not buying that. That was just waaaay too mysteriously convenient.
Something else that irked me a little were the descriptions, that were really freaking ridiculous at times. There was one line that was something like "The light was too light, the dark too dark. BUT IT WAS ALL BEAUTIFUL SOMEHOW." What? I just.. huh? Since when are those adjectives that work in that sense? And that last sentence just seems ridiculous to me, I'm sorry. It was probably meant to be so poetic all of us would've been blown away by the sheer awesomeness, but I had to suppress a laugh at that. The ending was very good though, very intriguing cliffhanger.
Generally, I think that's a good way to sum up the book. It was trying so hard to be so very meaningful and unique and stand out, but it didn't. That's not to say it's bad, but it just doesn't leave that big of a mark, at least not for me. It's one of those books you only read once and looking back on the experience, you tell yourself, "Ah yes that was a nice read" but you probably won't be re-reading. At least not for the next 1 to 2 years if you've got tons of other stuff to read yet.
So, yes. It was good. I liked it, I enjoyed it, even though it dragged a little, especially since it's 500+ pages again, like Beautiful Creatures. I will be reading the next book, partly though because I have already bought it and it's staring at me from my shelf, judging.