Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & 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.

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.


Intricate and intriguing, Beautiful Darkness delves deeper into the Caster world, both building it more and creating new questions. With many of the same characters and a few new ones, things kick up a few notches in this installment in the series. Garcia and Stohl continue to smoothly blend a modern setting with a supernatural world. The Southern setting is still striking, memorable and well done, holding a very true not to small towns of the Deep South while maintaining a fluidity for anyone not accustomed to that way of life.

Ethan is still loving, thoughtful and intelligent. His heart is firmly with Lena, and the character development he gained in book one carries through to this one. Even when he is in clear denial of a situation's truth, the reasons are clear and concise. Ethan endures some heartbreaking challenges in Beautiful Darkness, handling some more smoothly than others, and the impact it has on him comes through strongly by the end. I switched from wanting to hug him to having a strong desire to smack him upside the head and knock a little sense into him, and it is this shifting that signifies how well Garcia and Stohl are able to write their narrator.

Lena goes through her own trials and changes, all seen through Ethan's eyes which adds an interesting perspective and bias. She is confused and unsure, guilt ridden and overwhelmed. Her actions are both understandable and frustrating, and she drives this book's plot in a big way. Lena is both an open book and an enigma in this book, as she was in Beautiful Creatures, and Garcia and Stohl continue to both strengthen and shroud her overall character and personality.

Apart from Lena and Ethan, the side characters continue to hold a strong presence, and their personalities are well developed and brought forth. Link is a great best friend, willing to have Ethan's back no matter the situation. He is caring and funny in the dorkiest, most awkward of ways, and brings quite a bit to the table. Ridley, my personal favorite character, makes her appearance in this book and of course brings all the trouble we'd expect with every new lick of a lollipop. She slips into this plot in a surprising way, and shows up when you least expect it to build her character and purpose. Her quips are perfectly delivered and her nonchalance well written.

This plot is unpredictable, intricate and brilliant. When linked with the book one events, it's overall nature is astounding in how deep everything runs, how well thought out and put together it is, and how beautifully things play out. Though parts did lag for me, the overall scope is fantastic. With small things that end up being something important, plenty of tie ins to the Beautiful Creatures events, and numerous unforeseeable twists, Beautiful Darkness takes Ethan and Lena's struggles to a new level.

By the end of the book, the majority of this book's events are wrapped up, with just hints of what might be coming. Despite those hints, the specifics remain unpredictable and innumerable. The writing is still smooth, detailed in a subtle way and very strongly able to build scenery in a reader's mind. From the great cast of characters, the realistic and detailed setting, the intricately built world and unpredictable plot, Beautiful Darkness is another great installment to the Caster Chronicles and showcases the natural ability of Garcia and Stohl in the simplest of ways.

Source: ARC borrowed from friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316077054
ISBN-13: 978-0316077057


  1. What a well-written review. I can't wait to get my hands on Beautiful Darkness!


  2. Great review! Been thinking about reading the first one.

    Also, I gave you an award over at my blog here:

    Happy Friday!

  3. Before reading Beautiful Darkness I had already heard that it was suppose to be even better than Beautiful Creatures but I was still skeptical about it, it's sometimes hard to find a sequel that's better than the first or that even comes close to being as good as the first book in the series. Beautiful Darkness is one of those, it's one of the exceptions, like some of my other favorite series Beautiful Darkness was quite amazing and I ended up loving it a lot more than Beautiful Creatures.