TITLE: Beautiful Darness (Book 2 of Beautiful Creatures)
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
LENGTH: 528 pages
SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) 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.
REVIEW: This series is impressive. Stohl and Garcia have managed to create a truly unique magical world within the unwritten social confines of the American South. Those who were raised in the South will feel immediately comfortable in Ama’s kitchen and wince with every wave of her wooden spoon. Even those not from the South will appreciate the setting and its effect on the story.That’s one of the things that makes this series so intriguing. Many series try to set their stories in ambiguous places with a sort of Every Man feel and yet everything about this series is firmly rooted in the South. It is so refreshing to have a series be somewhere so familiar, not only in location, but also in its cultural connotation. Beyond the series’ setting itself, the magical world that Stohl and Garcia have created is entrancing. The Casters battling for dominance in the underground tunnels that connect the Caster world beneath the Gatlin community is captivatingly creepy.
As a second book goes, there is no second-book-drop-off whatsoever. The on-again-off-again dynamic between Lena and Ethan keeps readers turning pages to see if their love can survive this second year of waiting for the other shoe to drop. More secrets and connections to Ethan’s mother and family are revealed and the layering of the Caster world mysteries within Gatlin’s history seem natural. Readers get a closer look at some of the minor characters and the scope of the Caster world expands. Because Lena’s emotional state is so precarious, readers may tire of her self-pity and changeable attitude toward Ethan, but ultimately the connection between the two of them and the revelation of Ethan’s role within the Caster world will keep readers tuned in until the last page.