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Book Reviews

Review: “Beautiful Darkness,” Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

February 16, 2011
Review: “Beautiful Darkness,” Kami Garcia & Margaret StohlBeautiful Darkness (The Caster Chronicles #2)
Written by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
Published October, 2010 by Little Brown
503 pages
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Witches
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four-stars

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.

I enjoyed Beautiful Darkness a teeny bit more than I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures. The books are HUGE, though, so at times I struggled to keep my head in the game and just keep reading… but, there’s a lot of action and a lot of revelations in this one that will keep your interest the whole way through.

I was ‘so-so’ about this series when I finished Beautiful Creatures. If I recall correctly, the book dropped and carried my interest so many times I lost count. At times I loved it, at times I was uninterested and put it away for a while. But, at the end of Beautiful Creatures, I was hooked on the action and eager to find out what was going to happen when it all boiled down.

I remember being slightly irked that the ‘problem’ of the book – Lena’s claiming – was deferred until ‘next time around’, her seventeenth moon. So that’s where Beautiful Darkness came in.

I leapt into this book hoping for the problems of Beautiful Creatures to be carried over into this installment and be resolved once and for all. Unfortunately, this wasn’t so. I found that many of my niggling doubts still hovered around this one when I was reading. Once again, the ‘problem’ of Lena’s claiming seems to be pushed aside until ‘next time around’ and I can’t help but think at times: Why? What was the point of it all, then? After 500 odd pages, you want to feel satisfied that all the time you put into the book was worth something.

Yes, there was a great deal of character development (some new characters are introduced which I loved – Liv being the frontrunner) and secrets are revealed, explained, etc. but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been cheated of some sort of ending. I realize there is another book coming up (I think the title is yet to be released) but I would like some sort of consolation prize for finishing two 500+ page tomes.

In all honesty, the writing within these books is amazing. I can’t help but see beautifully crafted scenes by reading Kami and Margaret’s descriptions. You get a real feel for the Southern life and it’s a real breath of fresh air after reading books that sometimes lack in the department of imagination. You are truly ‘swept away’ when you immerse yourself in these pages.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the characters, though. At times I love Ethan, other times I’m on the fence. It’s still weird for me to read a YA novel through a male point of view and it’s not something I think I’m going to favour in the near future. I’ll always like reading a novel through a female’s eyes, because, well, I am a female! I have said before in my reviews, however, that I do admire female authors for delving into the challenge of writing a male POV story.

I have never really liked Lena, though. I’m not sure what her popularity currently stands at, but I’ve never been a fan. I actually preferred the relationship between Ethan and the new girl, Liv. Liv reminds me a little of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series, which is funny because she has a great fondness for the moon and stars. Also, she’s British! I love her interactions with the Southern folk and their ways, how she tries to adapt.

I also really like the chemistry between Ridley and Link. I’m not a huge Link fan, but I do like Ridley. I think she’s a really great portion of the series and keeps things interesting.

I enjoyed Beautiful Darkness, moreso than Beautiful Creatures, but my only ‘eh’ is the lack of a resolution. I really had hoped that Lena’s claiming problem would be solved in this one. Instead, we’ve got to wait for her ‘Eighteenth Moon’ if the Shadowing song is anything to go by. There are a few things I still don’t understand quite yet, but, I will surely keep an eye out for the next one when it hits stores.

Recommended to: Fans of the first book Beautiful Creatures won’t be disappointed! If you were on the fence about this series after reading the first one, I think you’ll be nicely persuaded to carry on the series.

About Kami Garcia

Kami grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in spiral notebooks. As a girl with Southern roots, she has always been fascinated by the paranormal. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13″ on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.

About Margaret Stohl

Margaret Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Margaret loves traveling the world with her daughters, who are épée fencers, and living in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and two bad beagles.

4 Comments

  • Reply heyhey February 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    i have read both books im 14 and i loved them none of my friends want to read them though because they are so long! i will say both of these books are in close to my all-time favorite book ever!

    • Reply Brittany February 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      That’s great to hear! They’re definitely long books so I can see why it’s hard to convince some of your friends ;)

  • Reply Naj February 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Great Review! I haven’t started the series just yet. I’m still looking around for reviews to help me decide if I should get the books or not! So far I’ve read that should get them. :D Thanks for this review! I’m a new follower! Loving your blog. :D

    • Reply Brittany February 19, 2011 at 7:04 am

      Thank you so much for following and commenting! I do the same, sometimes, before I read a series! Hopefully you’ll really enjoy them!

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