Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the paranormal YA series Beautiful Creatures (also called the Caster Chronicles) about Ethan and Lena trying to navigate magic, grief, linear curses, lifechanging decisions and teenage love in the Southern town Gatlin. I loved the first book in the series and its magic system, the strong and fierce characters and the Southern Gothic vibes. This book continued in the same style, but was unfortunately a bit slower and I just couldn’t root for Lena until the very end of it.
The story continued shortly after where the first book left, with Lena acting strange ever since Macon’s death and distancing herself from Ethan. A lot of this book felt like it was just waiting for things to happen; waiting for Lena to turn, waiting for a Curse to strike, and with Lena either whining about it, or being mean and cold to Ethan. Ethan’s feeling that “I knew I was in the moment before the thing happens – the thing that changes your life forever,” actually describes the book very well. It felt like we all knew something big was going to happen, but we were kept too long in the moment before it actually happened. The plot felt a bit unorganized, with a lot of chapters where almost nothing happened, and then a chapter where too much was going on at the same time and some major revelations, then followed by slow, uneventful chapters again. The new underground world of tunnels and all creatures living there was also a bit confusing and quite poorly explained. It took me almost 200 pages to feel invested in the story this time, but the ending sure made up for it, so I’m very glad I stuck with it through the slow first half!
I’m also very glad for the new character, and for Ethan being the same amazing character as in the first book. I really loved the new character Olivia (Liv) and her witt, intelligence and curiosity, and her and Ethan’s snarky banter. A lot of the other characters, like Amma and Link, were also given more depth and being even more wonderful than in the first book, making up for some of the things that were not as great in this one. I also really enjoyed Ethan finding out about his special skills, more about his mother and the reason for his and Lena’s connection, as well as the world building, Gothic vibes and the big part the city itself played.
“This town owned us, that was the good and the bad of it. It knew every inch of us, every sin, every secret, every scab. Which was why most people never bothered to leave, and why the ones who did never came back. Then I fell in love with a Caster girl. She showed me there was another world within the cracks of our uneven sidewalks. One that had been there all along, hidden in plain sight. Lena’s Gatlin was a place where things happened – impossible, supernatural, life-altering things.”
And the big surprise at the end was amazing! So even though it was very slow paced at the first half, and even though I was so annoyed with Lena for the most part, it eventually turned into a four star read making me more than excited to continue the series!
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Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
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