Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, July 13, 2012

Plot Summary:
After burying Macon, Lena is plagues with grief and regret. Although Lena survived her sixteen moon/birthday without having to choose if she will be a dark or light caster, her powers, as a natural are growing rather quickly. For Ethan, this last year has turned his whole world upside down and it seems like he is losing everyone he loves, including Lena. Although Ethan's father was able to get the help he needed to cope with his wife's loss, everyone, and everything, is changing. In fact, Amma has even stopped doing her crossword puzzles and drowns her sorrows in her cooking. It seems that ever since that fateful night, and Macon's death, an uncertain and disturbing series of events are making their way to Gaitlin. Although their relationship is at a stand still, Ethan refuses to give up on Lena and hopes that she will eventually bounce back. However, when a new caster, and Ridley make their way back to Ravenwood, its obvious they are up to something or Lena is not in her right mind. Furthermore, the visions have returned and without Macon to decipher the mystery behind, Ethan is on his own to uncover the mystery behind the Ravenwood curse. Not only does this task seem impossible, Marian could not be directly involved and Lena was not available, or willing, to help Ethan. Unfortunately, when Lena makes a rash decision to leave Gatlin with Ridley and John, a hybrid Incubus, Ethan not only feels abandoned, but leads him to think Lena no longer loves him. Unable, and unwilling, to let Lena go, Ethan enlists the help of his best friend, Link, and Keeper-in-Training, Liv, to not only go on a deadly journey beneath the Tunnels, but find the location of the Great Barrier. What they weren't counting on is the lethal group of incubuses, Serafine, and Abraham Ravenwood and their plot to force Lena to claim herself.

Critical Evaluation:
I have been this saying this a lot, lately, but I could not put this book down. I cannot express how much I love this southern-Gothic tale where secrets, magic, and danger lurk in every corner. Compare to some sequels that I read, I was really, really frustrated with the situation, which means that this story is only going to get more exciting. Lenna's characters is so grief-stricken that she literally convinces herself to leave everything because of the death of Macon. In fact, she is heartbroken that she takes it upon herself to leave everything behind to protect those she loves. Meanwhile, Ethan, who is just falling apart, refuses to give up on Lena because he knows, deep down, that something, or someone, is trying to convince Lena that she is bad. What he doesn't realize is that she is doing it out of love, which, to him, makes him more determined to save her because she was the one who brought him back to life. Readers will find themselves angry and frustrated because, like the main characters, we want Lena and Ethan to be together because love knows no bounds. However, we do get one very unexpected surprise in regards to forbidden love, which not only makes Lena and Ethan more determines to fight for their love, but bring an end to the nonsense between mortals and casters. I will re-iterate that the reason why I love this premise so much is because not only is the Civil War engrained in the community of Gatlin, it is also going on in the caster world. Civil Wars are never, ever worth fighting in any world since all it leaves is a path of destruction where people die and misery thrives. I am very, very excited about the next installment because with the re-appearance of Abraham Ravenhood, the battle is only going to get worse. I sincerely hope Lena, who claims herself both light and dark, will learn to control her powers.

Information about the Author:
According to their website:
Margaret is a veteran of the video-game industry, and after working with Activision (now Activision Blizzard) and Westwood Studios (now Electronic Arts), Margaret became a cofounder of 7 Studios with her husband, Lewis Peterson. She has previously been nominated for Most Innovative Game Design at the Game Developers Conference.

A graduate of Amherst College, where she won the Knox Prize for English Literature, Margaret earned a master’s degree in English from Stanford University and completed coursework for a doctorate in American Studies at Yale University. Margaret was a teaching assistant in Romantic Poetry at Stanford and in Film Studies at Yale. She attended the Creative Writing program of the University of East Anglia, where she was mentored by the Scottish poet George MacBeth.

Margaret loves traveling the world with her daughters, who are épée fencers, and living in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and two bad beagles.
Kami grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in her journals. She has always been fascinated by the paranormal and believes in lots of things “normal” people don’t. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13” on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.

Kami has an MA in education, and taught in the Washington DC area until she moved to Los Angeles, where she was a teacher & Reading Specialist. In addition to teaching, Kami was a professional artist and led fantasy book groups for children and teens. She still lives in LA with her husband, son, daughter, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Genre:
Teen Supernatural Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Beautiful Darkness:

Awards & Recognition:

Review quotes from Amazon.com

"The authors ground their Caster world in the concrete, skillfully juxtaposing the arcane, magical world with Gatlin's normal southern lifestyle. . . Fans will devour this latest book and plead for more." (VOYA, starred review )

"The southern gothic atmosphere, several new characters, and the surprising fate of one old favorite will keep readers going until the next book, which promises new surprises as "18 moons" approaches." (Booklist )

"This engrossing must-have sequel...will leave readers clamoring for the next installment." (School Library Journal )

"Readers eager to revisit Ethan and Lena's romantic tension and learn more about the Caster world and the Ravenwood family legacy will find satisfaction here." (Kirkus

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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