Beautiful Darkness is a reread for me. I read it first in July of 2010, when I couldn’t talk about the book because everything I might talk about could be construed as a spoiler. Sitting down to type this now, however, I realize that pretty much everything I can say about this book even now is an actual spoiler, and that makes it hard to write a review that will not offend someone.
But I’m going to try. Because I can. And because my previous boasty review of this needs to be stricken.
* Spoilers for those who have not read Beautiful Creatures *
Lena’s sixteenth birthday has come and gone. The claiming failed and now Lena is stuck between two states, the dark and the light, with both sides warring for her powers. She is heartbroken over her Uncle Macon’s death and this puts a lot of strain on her relationship with Ethan. Ethan is not the same either; he sees visions and longs for the relationship he once had with Lena. But as the months stretch onto her seventeenth birthday Lena begins to drift from him. She is spending more time with the Dark Casters in her family. Ethan finds comfort in the Librarian with Marian and, more importantly, Marian’s British research assistant, Liv. Lena’s birthday rocked the supernatural foundation of Gatlin to its core and, as the book goes on, Ethan vows to find a way to bring back the girl he loves.
There’s a piece in the middle of these books where the pacing is incredibly slow. I didn’t notice it on the first reads because I was impatient to know what the hell was going on. I’m noticing it more on the second read, a dull middle bit where the reader wades through the plot like quick sand. I know it’s intentional, and therefore I can’t fault it on the author’s part. These books are always plot heavy in the end and world building/character heavy in the front. It’s just the way that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl structure their novels. However, it has been noted – the middle drags a little. Make a note as a reader and do not be surprised.
The characters are what really shine in these books though. Ethan has always been a favourite male narrator of mine. His resourcefulness and empathetic nature have always appealed to me. His love for Lena is both tragic and beautiful. These two are fundamentally different people – he’s human and she is, well… not. It causes some ripples in their relationship throughout the entire series. That they keep trying to be together, despite the odds, is what makes these books work. The doomed nature of their relationship is gorgeous.
The side characters are also a fantastic addition – Link and Ridley, Amma and *sniff* Macon, the great Aunts, Lena’s Caster family, even some of the cattier girls at Ethan and Lena’s school figure in well to the story. Without some human element of drama it would fall flat, and the high school addition reminds us that Ethan, at least, is human.
The latter part of this book is where the action really sings. And I had forgotten the ending, particularly the bit about the older woman (I hope I am being nebulous enough). That was my favourite part of the book.
So, with Darkness done we march onto Beautiful Chaos, with a vengeance.
5 out of 5 stars. I still love it, even with the drag. We all need a little drag in our lives, sometimes.