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chaos Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl | Rating: ★★★★★

"When I first met you, that’s what I remember. I looked up at the sky and thought, I’m going to love this person because even the sky looks different."

With two installments under their belts, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl bring us back into their striking story of forbidden romance, magic and struggle with Beautiful Chaos. Chaos has a tone that is reminiscent of the previous novels and fits perfectly with a series. As always, it’s smart and fast paced and will leave readers breathless at the finally twists and discoveries in the last chapters.

It absolutely sets the stage for something far greater and one last mystery for its final installment.

The Caster Chronicles is a unique blend of southern talk, the charms and the annoyances, teen angst, magic and young love. I have to admit that the growth in characters is something special and that’s the most important thing about it. All of the characters we’ve come to know evolve and it’s a privilege to watch.

And the plots?

Ow, ow, ow! Oi!

Each installment builds onto their world and intrigues readers in different ways proving that each story is just getting better. And, if you must say so, more complicated. Beautiful Chaos is witty and action packed and will surely break your heart as we come to learn more about the wheel of fate and what has to be done to balance things once more.

As someone with a massive weakness for magical themed novels, Beautiful Chaos proves to be more than just the typical young adult forbidden love and battle oriented reads. There’s a lot of action and sarcasm and all sorts of delicious notes to be made. It is truly breathtaking.

We get more backstory in this one, too. In Beautiful Darkness we learned more about Macon and his relationship with Lila, Ethan’s mother who died tragically before our series begins and by the hands of Lena’s mother, Sarafine. Up until this point, we’ve known Sarafine only as she is and the trail of destruction she has left in her wake as a dark caster.

She’s a delectably evil character but for the most part has always seemed one dimensional. In this go-around, we find out she was once like Lena–and her name, what she was called before learning her birth name, was Izabel. After a discovery of some of her past possessions, Lena follows the trail and discovers a more intimate look of her mother.

I liked the visions that were shown to Lena and Ethan as they saw Sarafine before, as Izabel, and watched as she struggled to contain her dark nature. She became a monster, this is true, but it’s impossible to not be sympathetic towards her at the start of her life and it all boiled down to choices.

Sarafine never made the right ones but for the most part, she was weakened and manipulated by Abraham. She was virtually abandoned by her family when she was claimed as dark. Yet for ages, she struggled and fought for what was good in her. In many ways, it’s bittersweet seeing this and imagining what she could have been if only fate hadn’t intervened.

Lena, I feel, has a lot of mixed feelings to explore in regards to these developments. She will always long for what could have been, I think, and seeing the years leading up to Sarafine changing and embracing that darkness was something that needed to happen.

It was startling to see Sarafine love her daughter and her husband, the only person who didn’t abandon her, and then to see the way she couldn’t contain the darkness any further. It was even more startling to see the fire from her point of view and the last words she said as Izabel.

You can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t allowed Abraham to “teach” her and manipulate her or if her family hadn’t disowned her.

That being said, I liked seeing Ridley as a mortal, as well, for the brief amount of time. She’s such a fun character and so morally grey, I can’t help but love her in spite of it. It was fun listening to her snark about being mortal, about her new life and classmates, and of course her banter with Link–who is now an Incubus.

I think that the dynamic between the Duchannes family is interesting because everyone is so different but they all boil down to the same stubborn nature. I liked that we saw Ridley’s flaws and desire for power hit an all time high and although she doesn’t do the right things, I think that it fits well with the plots and her character as a whole.

I love Ridley, in other words, and that hasn’t changed.

And because of some of her terrible decisions, we see more of John in this one. I wasn’t all that fond of John in Darkness because of obvious reasons but I think that he is developing into a good character and I feel for him. I really did think that he was going to be the one to be sacrificed–due to all of that interest Abraham has in him–and was thrown when he wasn’t.

Personally, I would love to see more of him and Liv. We see the two fall together unexpectedly and I just wish we could have a better look at that development, but you can’t have everything and they are minor characters.

Now, you may be wondering why I haven’t touched base on Ethan just yet. This is mostly because Ethan has had a lot change in him since our introduction and he has lost so much in life. I like that he has gotten to know the world better and is willing to do anything to help it.

In Chaos, things aren’t all that different on that note. He still has a lot to lose and suddenly isn’t himself, not completely, and it’s hard to watch. He fights for his family and friends and of course Lena.

I feel terrible for him because things are suddenly not right anymore–his memory goes to hell and back, Amma is acting weird and his tastes change in terms of what he eats and drinks.

He is still Ethan but it’s like he has been, ahem, split in two. And even worse, he has started having nightmares far worse than he’d once had.

Things are growing more complicated for him and he has to make a heartbreaking decision by the end of the novel.

Which, hello. Cliffhanger, much? And, you know, a lot of tears?

As for other new developments: I loved seeing John and Ethan hit a truce. I liked that they were both there for each other when it came to different sacrifices. And I loved that Lena and Liv have seemed to come to the same, after a heated altercation. I thought it was amusing seeing the effect that Link now has on people due to him being an Incubus, as well.

Overall, Beautiful Chaos hits all the right marks and improves on an already incredible story. There have been a lot of quotes in the series thus far that I’ve highlighted, but Chaos by far has the most and I think about half of the book has notes and highlights in it from me.

I can’t wait for more! Bring on the heartbreak, I guess?

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