Tuesday, January 19, 2016

darkness Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl | Rating: ★★★★★

There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.

After a bit of procrastination on my part (and over a year of hassling from my other half) I finally picked up Beautiful Darkness, the first sequel to Beautiful Creatures and the second overall release in the Caster Chronicles. It took me long enough, right?

We’re welcomed back to Gatlin, a seemingly normal southern town that is layered between a world of dark and light magic, of Casters, Incubus, Keepers and Seers. Back are the familiar rules, plots and characters (and some new ones!)–but ever since the death of Macon Ravenwood, things haven’t been exactly improving for our leading lady and her guilt.

It’s summer time in Gatlin and something is lurking in the shadows.

As someone with a weakness for witches and angst and a dash of romance, I have to say that this second installment is far more superior compared to its predecessor. And I enjoyed the first book immensely so that is saying something. The fact of the matter is, once I picked back up this novel and began to read, I lost myself in it.

There’s something very darkly beautiful and haunting about this world of magic Garcia and Stohl produced and it’s so easy to devour it in one or two sittings. I found that this installment was a lot more vivid than the previous book and that’s what made it so enjoyable.

We explored more settings, more mythology, different kinds of connections and began to wonder where the lines would blur for the characters, whether they were “good” or “bad” and although the angst in this one was pretty high, it is still very satisfying.

Beautiful Darkness takes us to a much more emotionally damaged playground than Beautiful Creatures. Life hasn’t been the same since our dear Lena’s birthday–her uncle, Macon, died after a confrontation with the Dark Casters in her family and in the place of her Mortal boyfriend, Ethan Wate.

Ethan was stabbed on that fateful night and by all means should be dead. Together, because they couldn't let go of him, Amma and Lena worked together with The Book of Moons and brought him back from the dead. He doesn't recall this bit and that is probably a good thing, for now. When Amma and Lena cast the spell to restore his life, another was taken: Macon.

Along the way, since our introduction to her, there were some harsh truths Lena learned of her bloodline and found herself reunited with her cousin, who was once like a sister to her. Now, Ridley is back in town with a mysterious boy–John Breed–and claiming she wants to change. Because of her guilt for bringing Ethan back and taking away Macon's life, Lena is on a path of darkness all her own.

As for Ridley: she does seem to be showing more emotion than before–you can find her and Link having a serious case of banter and it’s adorable because they are so messy, but their chemistry is undeniable and I have to say I am rooting for them.

Is this Ridley telling the truth or is she manipulating her cousin and using the girls grief/vulnerability as something of a launching platform? After months of pulling away from Ethan, Lena seems to make a choice and begins acting very, very differently.

Her eyes are no longer the shade he once knew. They are both golden--a sign of a dark caster.

Lena, Ridley and John, after pulling a stunt at the fair, seem as thick as thieves and you can’t help but to wonder if Lena is making her own choices or if they have someway cast her under a spell. It’s something you’ll ask yourself frequently in this one: what is real? What is an illusion?

And have the rules changed?

Or were they ever really there to begin with?

What I liked about this one is that we saw Ethan and Lena in a rough patch and separated for much of the novel. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it was pretty nice to see them apart and to see whether or not they would find themselves back to each other.

Fate is a tricky thing, after all.

I also liked all the revelations and answers we got in this one. I liked seeing the expansion of this world–the tunnels, the inclusion of one of The Sisters and everyone’s favorite cat Lucille Ball. I especially liked the introduction of Marian’s “student”, Liv–who is just… she is literally a ray of sunshine and I love her so much already.

Liv is the complete opposite of Lena in the whole appearance and personality sort of thing, but there are a lot of common ground between the two. She was thrown into the mix but fit pretty exceptionally in with Ethan and Link. I was pleasantly surprised because she could have just been a full on plot device, but she definitely fit and I look forward to hearing more of her.

Amma was as flawless as ever. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love Amma? She is genuinely one of my favorites in this series (along with Macon, Lena and Ridley!) and I love how protective she is of Ethan in particular. It was nice seeing her come to their rescue unexpectedly and I just kinda am like: Amma, adopt me!

We don’t see enough of the casters in Lena’s family in this one (we get glimpses of them but it’s very, very minor) and this time around the main players are: Lena, Ethan, John, Ridley, Link, Liv, Amma and Marian.

Oh.

And Lila Evers–Ethan’s mother who died just before the first novel started. I liked how Garcia and Stohl worked her into the plots and gave us an idea of what really happened to her and just how deeply she was tangled in this supernatural world and how she has been pulling the strings to help Ethan here and there.

I would love to hear more about Lila’s relationship with both Macon and Mr. Wate, because she seems like an awesomely complex and strong character and we get a sense of that in her spirit form but just imagine what kind of force she would be! Ah, I love it. As suspected, her death wasn't an accident--she was killed, presumably by Sarafine under Abraham's orders; after she discovered he was still alive.

Spoiler time, massive spoiler time: I am so pumped that she saved Macon and he was able to come back to life.

Overall, Beautiful Darkness was an excellent read. I can’t wait to see where we go next. I have so many questions! SO. MANY. QUESTIONS!

Where is Abraham and what is he going to try next? And why is he so interested in, well, everything? Especially John Breed.

Will Lena and Ethan really be able to work things out? After the big battle and rescue, things are bound to change and they have patched up their relationship but with the occurrence of Sarafine and Abraham, and their lot’s, summoning another claiming moon there are going to be a lot of disturbances in both the mortal and caster worlds.

Can Liv and Ethan be friends, now that they know their connection is there but that nothing may come of it? What of her sacrifice in giving up her future as a keeper?

LINK. I need to know how Link handles the, uh, upcoming changes. That was probably the biggest plot twist for me in this one–he was bit by an Incubus and is transforming into one. We know that they are “dark creatures by nature” but we also know there is a way to battle it out.

I smell a lot of talks between Link and Macon in the future!

Will Ridley ever get her powers back? How will she survive as a Mortal, as she grew so accustomed to being a Siren? Will she be okay with going to school in Gatlin? Something tells me that between her and Link's changes, things are going to get more heated between the two. And what the heck was she doing at the very end of this novel?

One things for sure, Gatlin is going to keep on changing and I am just not sure what could possibly happen next! But I’m totally ready.

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