Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles series book 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (book review).
‘Beautiful Darkness’ is book two in the ‘Caster Chronicles’ series preceded by ‘Beautiful Creatures’ and followed by ‘Beautiful Chaos’ and ‘Beautiful Redemption’.
I must warn you now that there may be some unintentional spoilers in this review as I am writing about the second book in this series, I apologise but sometimes it’s impossible not to accidentally give something away.
So, after the big hoo-ha about Lena turning Dark or Light in the ‘Beautiful Creatures’, the first book of the series, this time we turn our attentions to whether Casters and humans really can have a ‘romantic’ life together. We were told in no uncertain terms that if a Caster and human should decide to get too close, the human will die and this has put a bit of a crimp in Ethan and Lena’s relationship to say the least. They are also having to deal with the fallout in terms of the people they lost or who are temporarily missing from their lives. We also discover that there is going to be more time-slipping back to the time Gatlin was torched in the American Civil War. This book is slightly different to the previous one as it seems to mostly be about Ethan, with very little about Lena apart from the odd moment or two. To be honest, this is also a bit of a continuation of the story of Lena choosing whether she wishes to be Dark or Light and I’m not honestly sure if this has finished here.
For some reason, I didn’t enjoy the beginning, maybe because everyone is so depressed after the things that happened at the end of ‘Beautiful Creatures’? I also felt a little bit lost at the beginning because some of the things that happened didn’t seem to be well explained, such as how did Link’s mother feel after everything? I also didn’t like the way Lena is changing as there is no real insight into the way her mind is working, maybe some little bits from her viewpoint might have helped.
I love the names of the animals in Gatlin, Boo Radley the dog and Lucille Ball the cat are hilarious! Especially so when they seem to have little conversations to each other and that flippin’ cat turns up everywhere, typical magical creature, perhaps more than we’re led to believe in the beginning.
I enjoyed the new character British girl Olivia Durand who is Marian the librarian’s summer research assistant as she was someone I think I’d get on well with. The bits where Ethan is trying to get her to pronounce words in the American fashion rather than with her British accent are particularly interesting and amusing. However, there are some less pleasant new characters joining the evil Seraphine from the previous book and don’t think just because you’re in the last 100 pages you’re not going to get any new characters thrown at you, they just keep on arriving!
But wow! There are some great bits alongside the depressing teen-angsty bits. I absolutely loved learning more about the tunnels under Gatlin and our own feet inhabited by the Casters and heaven knows what else! Garcia and Stohl really have upped the ante with regard to an interesting new magical world. So many new creatures to be introduced to some of which I really would not like to bump into on a dark night, like the Vex. I did wonder whether we’d get to see more of this subterranean world and the answer is yes, definitely yes.
‘Beautiful Darkness’ does suffer a little from ‘middle book syndrome’ where it is clearly setting things up for later books, meaning that often it feels as though nothing much is happening apart from the reader learning more about the magical world. However, the fact that this is still an interesting middle book with lots to entertain means I cannot wait for the next couple of books in the series as they’re bound to be great with this amount of set-up. Saying this, there are moments when you’ll be reading ‘Beautiful Darkness’ thinking, wow, this is taking a long while to get anywhere.
Heads-up this book ends on a big cliff-hanger. I would advise having book three, ‘Beautiful Chaos’, next to you because you are going to want to start that one straight away!
(pub: Penguin. 503 page paperback. Price: £ 5.99 (UK)if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-014132-609-2)
check out website: www.penguin.co.uk