503 pp. Little, Brown and Company. 2010 ISBN: 978-0-316-07705-7
Summary (From the publisher): “Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.
Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.”
With all of the paranormal fantasy series out there, I’ve become quite picky over the years. Thinking about the many series and triologies I’ve read, I’ve noticed that the second book in a trilogy or the books in the middle of a series tend to drag. After reading and falling in love with Beautiful Creatures I was nervous Beautiful Darkness may end up the same way. Thankfully, I worried for absolutely no reason! Beautiful Darkness never dragged, never became wordy, never lost my interest. In fact, I was so obsessed with it while reading that even some of my dreams took on parts of the plot! Now that’s a good book!
Even though I enjoy Lena’s character, it was nice that she was “absent” from much of the novel because it allowed the reader to become more familiar with Ethan. His love and devotion for Lena is both sweet and admirable. While many boys Ethan’s age would probably move on after the constant gossiping and teasing, Ethan stays by Lena’s side. He loves her for who she is inside and out; that says a lot about a 17-year-old. And yes, I know this is a fictional character, but teens need positive role models even if they’re in books! I also like that Ethan isn’t written as a domineering, possessive boyfriend watching Lena’s every move. She asks for space, and albeit reluctantly, he provides it.
I have to mention Link. I always find myself paying extra attention to how authors write the best friend, and Link has to be one of my favorite protagonists’ best friend. Maybe it’s some secret, guy, best friend thing I don’t know about, but Link never fails Ethan. I’m not bashing girls and their friends, but sometimes it seems like there’s less judgment between guys. Link doesn’t really ask questions, he’s just always there for his best friend. Even better is that Ethan doesn’t take advantage of Link, he helps out Link just as much as Link helps him. It’s a great friendship that Kami and Margaret wrote wonderfully.
When it comes to the setting, I have a love/hate relationship with Gatlin. I love all the gothic elements like the moss covered trees and the graveyards, but I can’t stand the small minds of the community. Thankfully, the narrow-minded Gatlin citizens didn’t play as heavy a role in Beautiful Darkness. Instead we learned more about Ethan’s family and the complicated workings of the Lunae Libri. It’s near the top of my Fictional Places I’d Love to Visit list. Oh the life of a Caster…
Overall, if you can’t already tell, I give Beautiful Darkness five out of five stars. The only complaint I have is that the cliffhanger at the end has left me desperate for the next installment!