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Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; read in August, 2010.  ARC provided by Little, Brown at ALA Annual 2010.

I’ve been pondering this review for the past week because all I want to do is gush, and I am not sure lots of gushing really equals a “review.”  Instead, I’m giving Beautiful Darkness a “book hug.”

Beautiful Darkness picks up shortly after where Beautiful Creatures left off.  Ethan and Amma attend a pre-dawn burial service for Macon.  Lena is taking the loss of her uncle very hard, and despite how Ethan reaches out to her with understanding from the loss of his mom, she starts to pull away from him.  He grows more concerned when Lena begins to spend more and more time with Ridley and a mysterious guy, John Breed.  Enlisting the help of Link and Liv, a British girl interning at the library with Marian for the summer, Ethan sets out on a quest to save Lena before it is too late.  Along the way, he receives help from surprising sources, but can a rag-tag trio of mortals really fight the powerful Darkness drawing Lena in?

Love, love, love this book!  Garcia and Stohl build on the world they created in the first book, layering in even more.  If you thought the Caster world was intriguing in Beautiful Creatures, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  I read most of this book at the Jersey shore beach and pool, but I have little memory of my vacation time in those settings as I was transported away from the water and sand into southern Gatlin and its mysterious corners.  Ethan’s journey takes the reader through some incredible places.

And Ethan…aw, I love Ethan.  I love his heart.  I love his kindness and patience, particularly for his aunts.  I love how he loves the people in his life.  But I particularly love how he loves Lena.  I love that even when he doubts their future together, he cannot doubt the Lena he knows and will do anything to help her see her own heart.  Ethan’s quest is truly a hero’s quest, and would be a great modern tie-in for students studying the hero’s quest throughout literature.  I can see it being a great choice for teen girls who might want more romance than some male-centric hero’s quest stories deliver.

The characters in Beautiful Darkness all make me love them even more than I did before.  There is much more than meets the eye in so many of the Gatlin residents, and some of the people that come forward to assist Ethan in his quest may surprise you. Or they may not, if you read this one with the reminder of the two sides of Gatlin and how those sides intermingled.  Link continues to be a favorite, and I think fans of his will love his development here.  Amma is wonderful, and her love of Ethan knows no bounds.  The Aunts are hilarious and continue to develop as individuals.  Boo isn’t seen as much, but another animal fills in the gap.  While it doesn’t replace Boo (you can never replace an awesome dog), I did not miss him much due to the awesomeness of this animal.  (I’ve never been a huge fan of this animal type, but this character made me want to get one of my own!)

My only slight concern from Beautiful Creatures – the lack of immediate fire some readers think they need in romance – is remedied here.  Even when Lena is drawing away from Ethan, she still can’t resist the physical pull between them.  The passion between the two is hot!

Do you see why I am calling this a book hug?  I can’t stop gushing!  I don’t want to say much more because this one should not be spoiled before you wrap yourself in it.  The ending does set-up book # 3 in an awesome but gasp-worthy way.  When I finished it, I couldn’t believe I have to wait another year to know what happens next.  This series is solidified as a favorite of mine, and I HIGHLY recommend reading Beautiful Darkness.  I can’t wait to order the released copy for my school library, and purchase a copy for my own personal shelves.

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Filed under review, young adult lit