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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Beautiful Darkness' Caster Chronicles #2 by Kami GARCIA and Margaret STOHL

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:


One night in the rain, Ethan Wate opened his eyes and fell in love with Lena Duchannes. His life would never be the same.

Lena is a Caster and her family is locked in a supernatural civil war: full of darkness and demons. On her sixteenth birthday Lena made a terrifying choice, which now haunts her day and night.

And as her seventeenth birthday approaches Lena and Ethan face even greater danger. A Caster and a Mortal can never truly be together.

Every kiss is a curse.
Ethan's next heartbeat could be his last.
It is their curse now . . .

‘Beautiful Darkness’ is the second book in Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s young adult paranormal series ‘Caster Chronicles’.

‘Darkness’ picks up where ‘
Beautiful Creatures’ left off. Caster-girl, Lena Duchannes, was caught in the middle of a civil war between light and dark. Her beloved uncle, Macon Ravenwood, was on the side of light. While her witch mother, Sarafine, was trying to convince her estranged daughter to choose the darkness. . . Lena always thought that her seventeenth birthday would be black and white; a battle between good and evil that was preordained and set in stone. Lena never expected to have a choice. . . nor did she expect her uncle to die trying to save her or that being a light Caster would mean her and her human boyfriend, Ethan Wate, couldn’t be together. Turns out, fate is a fickle friend.

I loved first book ‘Beautiful Creatures’ and the follow-up is just as superb.

The ‘Caster Chronicles’ is epic and paranormal, with the crux of the story being Lena and Ethan’s impossible romance. Lena is a Caster witch, and Ethan is the human boy who loves her. It’s a quite simple story, until you throw in a power-play for Lena’s soul and the prejudicial town backdrop.

The series is set in the Deep South middle-of-nowhere town Gatlin County. A main focus of the series is Lena’s Caster family as they live amidst Gatlin’s small-minded and prejudicial townsfolk. ‘Beautiful Creatures’ focused on Lena’s upcoming seventeenth birthday and her dilemma between dark and light, exacerbated by high school clique politics. By contrast, ‘Beautiful Darkness’ is a more introverted book. Yes, the town prejudice is still there and fiery as ever. But Garcia and Stohl have written more focus on the characters inner turmoils, as opposed to the outside pressures of town bigotry. When ‘Darkness’ begins, Lena is in a bad mental state. Her uncle is dead; the man who was her surrogate mother, father and dear friend, and Lena is weighted down by guilt for his sacrifice. Ethan is just as weighted by Lena’s depression – he loves her and wants to help, but Lena’s bleak mentality is a barrier that not even Ethan can breach.
Lena wasn’t coming out of it. She wasn’t coming back to herself or to me. If anything, she was drifting farther away from me than anyone else. More and more, I couldn’t reach her, not on the inside, not with Kelting or kissing or any of the other complicated or uncomplicated ways we used to touch. now when I took her hand, all I could feel was the chill.
At the same time, Lena still has a choice between light and dark. . . and as each day passes and her mentality grows bleaker, Lena seems more and more determined to succumb to the darkness. And encouraging Lena’s dark side is her Siren cousin, Ridley, and a mysterious Caster Incubus called John Breed.

‘Beautiful Creatures’ was a wonderful first book. It was a grandiose battle between good and evil, melding past and present with an overarching story of defeating fate. ‘Beautiful Darkness’ is still about the grand battle between light and dark, but I really loved the introspection of this second book. Garcia and Stohl have written Lena’s sink into depression with such tenderness and finesse. And it’s not just Lena’s darkening perceptions that made for thoughtful reading; rather it was Ethan’s coping with her mental state. I think this is a subject a lot of younger readers can relate to – both the feelings of despair, but also being a friend to someone who is suffering from depression. Garcia and Stohl never lose their characters amidst the extravagant paranormal plots; the book kept coming back to these two very relatable teenage characters and their struggles.

Then there’s the fact that Lena and Ethan are struggling to maintain their romance. Lena is tempted by dark Caster John Breed. While Ethan is making connections with Liv, an English student temping at the Caster library. This is another very human problem that balances the paranormal extravagance beautifully;
. . .All I know is that it shouldn’t be so hard. Loving someone shouldn’t be so hard.
But for all of the emotional turmoil in the book, there is still heavy emphasis on the paranormal side of things. I don’t want to give too much away, but in ‘Darkness’ Garcia and Stohl throw curve-balls left right and centre. Plot twists concerning Macon Ravenwood and Ethan’s mother. Ethan’s role in the Caster society. And how committed Ridley is to the dark side. . . and amidst all of these grandiose supernatural storylines is Lena, still choosing between light and dark, turning her green eyes gold;
Lena shook her head, watching as he wrote. “No. I don’t belong there anymore. I would’ve ended up hurting them. I hurt everyone who loves me.”
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have a beautiful series premise with the ‘Caster Chronicles’. Their books are about the decisions between good and evil, the light and dark within us and not letting fate dictate one’s life. And amidst all these paranormal premises is a supernatural girl, in love with a human boy. I love this series, two books deep and I am completely hooked. I can’t wait for book #3, due out Fall 2011.

5/5

3 comments:

  1. You're a machine. How do you read so quickly?!?! Glad you enjoyed BD, though. I'm reserving reading the whole Caster Chronicles Books 1-2 in November.

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  2. This book was everything I'd hoped for and much, much more. Kami and Margaret write with such passion and intensity that every time I cracked the book opened I felt like some kind of Caster spell was put on me, for I felt like I was in another world, in a trance. The very same way Beautiful Creatures would make me feel. It's really a great way to ignore the loud children and hungry husband. I can't express how good the writing is. It will take you places you could only imagine in your wildest dreams.

    Ethan... OH, Ethan. Since my husband does not read my reviews, I can say without hurting his feelings... ETHAN is tha' man. I have dreamt about him, for some reason my husband usually shows up and challenges Ethan to a dual, like in the days of Zorro.

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