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.
Besides winning writing, excellent ambiance, and southern character and comfort, the Beautiful Creatures series has a unique brand of story telling. Each book is a chunk of the greater story arc- a relatively straight forward arc of the usual save-the-world variety, but what I love about it became very obvious as I started reading book two. Each book tells the story in a different way. Book one was very classic YA paranormal romance, book two was a continuance of that but in a very Theseus and the Minotaur/greek myth vein. Oh there was teenage angst, and trouble in paradise for Lena and Ethan, there were even hints at various love triangles, but there were all in underground caster tunnels full of evil and prophecies!
Also, there was a heroine cat, and nothing steals my heart as much as a winning animal in any story. Especially when it isn't just used as the easy tear-jerker death.
Lucille Ball was staring at me from the foot of my bed, the way she did most mornings now. After Lucille showed up on our porch, I took her back home to Aunt Mercy, but the next day she was sitting on our porch again. After that, Aunt Prue convinced her sisters that Lucille was a deserter, and the cat moved in with us. I was pretty surprised when Amma opened the door and let Lucille wander in, but she had her reasons. "Nothin' wrong with havin' a cat in the house. they can see what most people can't, like the folks in the Otherworld when they cross back over- the good ones and the bad. And they get rid a mice."Nicely put Amma, so I will be thoroughly ghost and mouse free with my little team of furry bandits. I knew I kept them around for something. Especially the exhausting little Opal.
*eye roll in her general direction as she feigns innocence and angelic-ness while sleeping*
But back to the style change, I loved how fresh this switch-up kept the story, and also how it kept it from being bogged down in Ethan's misery. Remember book two in Twilight when Bella's depression threatens to make you burn the book from the angst of it all? No, just me then? Well regardless, I appreciated how it blew a breath of fresh air across all aspects of the story so that it didn't get either repetitive or start to resemble half a dozen other YA paranormal romances.
As Liv, Ethan, Link and Lucille go adventuring, it opens all sorts of avenues for Garcia and Stohl to continue revealing intriguing bits of history and family involvement in the Caster world. It also provides the opportunity for Ethan to become much more than Lena's lovesick sidekick, as he now has his own destiny and part to play in the battle between the Dark and the Light.
Beautiful Darkness was an excellent addition to the series, and was further proof this was a collection I couldn't wait to continue on with. Plus, it still managed to make me giggle, which is always a good sign.
Beautiful Darkness, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published by Little Brown, October 2010
Buy Beautiful Darkness on Amazon, or the whole box set ( you know you want to).