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VINE VOICEon October 14, 2010
Lena and Ethan have lived through the day that they had been dreading for months, Lena's sixteenth birthday, but not without some sacrifices. With Macon's death, Lena is depressed and lost, and there doesn't seem to be anything that Ethan can do to help her, despite his own experiences with grief. Then Lena begins pulling away and taking risks, and Ethan, still not aware of what really happened to him the night of Lena's birthday, can't understand why. So he digs deeper into Caster lore and his mother's research to look for a way to save Lena and what they have before it's too late. But once you've entered the Caster world, you can never go back, and some secrets Ethan uncovers will put him and everyone he loves in far more danger than he can imagine.

Beautiful Darkness is a very detailed and layered sequel that won't disappoint fans of Beautiful Creatures. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's world is vivid and rich, with an old south backdrop, lore, and traditions--the setting is really what sets their work apart from the endless options in the paranormal genre. Though it picks up where Beautiful Creatures leaves off, the book covers a good amount of time as Lena and Ethan struggle with conflicting feelings about the night of Lena's birthday, the consequences, and the grief each are experiencing. Ethan's voice is especially strong in this installment, as he has to stand on his own and discovers a whole new world right beneath his own nose. Garcia and Stohl also introduce a few new characters that add new tension between the main characters and open the way to new, surprising secrets about Caster powers and the battle of Light vs. Dark. All the twists, secrets, and surprises culminate in a journey through the Caster tunnels and a suspenseful showdown between family members that will leave some dead, and some very much alive. There might be some confusion as to who is left standing at the end, but one thing is for certain: this story is not over, and readers still have another deliciously thick and dark gothic book to look forward to.
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on October 14, 2010
After not being claimed for darkness like she feared, you would expect Lena to be happy to be able to stay with Ethan. However her guilt from her Uncle's death is threatening to consume her and causes Lena to pull further and further away from Ethan. When Ethan starts having mysterious visions again, this time without Lena, he knows she is in trouble, but he just isn't sure what the danger really is. When Lena really starts to take a turn for the worst, Ethan may just be the only person who can save her from herself, but what happens when she doesn't want to be saved?

The teen love angst was majorly stepped up in this book. It really surprises me to say this, but I actually think the angst added to the story. Usually this is something that will turn me off of a series, but it was handled perfectly in this book. Everything between Ethan and Lena is thoroughly strained, ripped, torn apart. It's almost as if all of their differences grew together and formed an impenetrable wall between the two of them. However, while the issues between them made for a terribly nail biting read, if they can overcome those obstacles, they will only come out the other side that much stronger. I really enjoy these two together and I hope their relationship will stand the test of time despite the road blocks along the way.

A lot of questions get answered in this book. Many of those answers are ones you will never see coming. Things are really starting to come all together and the events in the past have woven a very intricate web to lead into the present. It's amazing to see how everything has led up to the current events, and its hard to believe there is still plenty we do not know. This book really has just the right amount of revelations to really keep the pace going, but it leaves plenty of mystery as well. This is a really fine line to follow, and can be one of my biggest pet peeves in a book. Too little information and the book is very frustrating, but too many revelations can become boring as there is no mystery left. I am very impressed with the way this series is progressing and handling the "information and mystery" issues.

If you thought the stakes were high in the first book, this one steps it up that much further. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat the entire book. I couldn't read it any faster! This book will definitely grip you every bit as hard as the first one. After the revelations in this book, I cannot imagine the direction the next book will have to take. If you enjoyed the first book, this one surely will not disappoint. If you are anything like me, as soon as you finish this book, you will be counting down until the next one.
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on October 29, 2010
This review does not contain spoilers. I dearly loved Beautiful Creatures. I knew it's often hard to write a follow-up story, especially for new authors, but I was heartened by the positive reviews, and I got the book. But Beautiful Darkness unfortunately is nothing like the first book. In the appendix, the authors thank their editor, however I think she more than anyone failed them, along with perhaps the project director. The first half of the book is pretty good, and the darkness of the story is relatively well developed, but the second half can only be described as dreadful, and in the end profoundly disappointing. Every single rookie writer mistake, so delightfully absent from the first book, is present in the second half. The story line is convoluted, and plot devices abound everywhere, almost comically. The quick, insightful humour and characterization becomes ham-fisted, full of lengthy repetitive descriptions. The overall story devolves into something that reminded me of a comic book, and I'm not talking about a good graphic novel. Even the ending never ends, continuing for seemingly forever. As I read, and then forced myself to reread the book, I found myself wondering which age bracket the authors were trying to aim for. Certainly they have successfully lowered the target age for their audience with this installment. But more than that, I think that the editor should have sent the manuscript back for a rewrite of the second half. Yes, the deadline would have likely been missed, and perhaps everyone is counting on Warner Bros' movie money already, but I can't imagine that this book will help the overall project long term. From the other reviews, maybe I'm wrong and everyone else has no problem with lousy writing and a descent into comic book-like storytelling, but I think it's a real shame, given how great Beautiful Creatures was. I think this book is exactly what happens when new authors have to write a second novel, the inspiration is not quite there anymore, and their editor is not behind them to ensure that their product is as strong as possible. Ultimately it ends up hurting everyone. I can only hope that they will redeem themselves with the third installment, although I am no longer sure about this whole project.
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on February 18, 2011
I read "Beautiful Creatures" a few days ago, and immediately jumped into "Beautiful Darkness," since I had both checked out from the library at the same time.

I won't bother summing up the plot of this sequel, as of course a summary would give away spoilers for those who haven't read the first book. But I'm afraid my opinion of this novel is very similar to what I thought about the first---it's not terrible, but it's not particularly good either.

I found myself more frustrated this second time around, however; I was hoping that some of the problems of the first book would have been rectified in the second, but that was not the case at all. An example: one of the irritations of the first book was that both the magical world that exists just under the surface of our own mundane environment, and the inhabitants of this odd reality, weren't sufficiently described or explained. I wanted to know more---the background of the two families, how these creatures came to be, how the magic system operates, what it's all about, etc., etc.... Now, I'm not expecting a huge infodump, but I thought the authors could have worked all this into the text of the story. Well, they never did---and continued in the same way in this second book. As the story progressed I got the feeling that they were just making up random crap as they went along, with no real logic behind it all. And I just got more and more annoyed as I read, thinking "Why am I even bothering with this?"

Add to this the fact that I was fed-up with the supposed heroine after the first chapter. Oh, I know we are supposed to feel all sympathetic for her, but really; I just wanted to yell at her and say SNAP OUT OF IT! For most of the book I was rooting for the two lovers to split up permanently, no possible chance of reconciliation---not a good sign in a book that is supposed to portray a true romance.

So, by the time I got to the end of the book I was thinking that okay, I've had enough of this series. And then wouldn't you know---a chapter or two from the end something interesting happens that makes me curious, and suddenly I was considering reading the next instalment when it is published---could be quite an intriguing story, there. But then in the last chapter there is an INCREDIBLY STUPID AND ILLOGICAL plot development, and once again I'm totally disgusted with it. So, who knows... I may try the next volume at some point, but I daresay by the time it is released I may have forgotten all about this mess.

So.... no, not really a recommendation on either book, from me. The writing style itself isn't bad at all, and there are the germs of a great story here. But it's lost in the confusion of a poorly developed and sloppy plot. And once again----these books are waaaaaaayyyyy too long.
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on October 17, 2010
I read Beautiful Creatures this past summer. Took up Ethan Wate as a personal role and fell in love with Lena Duchannes. I could not wait until the sequel came out this past week. I preordered it and read it in three days.

This sequel did not disappoint. It was everything I wanted and more. In the beginning seeing the characters drift in different directions. In some spots it pained me physically to see these things happen to Lena and Ethan. When Lena starts to feel strange and she has to leave Ethan, I wanted to lay down and cry. Then the new character of Liv was introduced to the novel which brought an entirely new spin on things. I began to fall in love with Liv, there was a love triangle that I couldn't resist delving deeper and deeper into. And then a new caster was introduced. All of these new characters made for an amazing sequel. It makes it so some one must get hurt, which would make for great emotional tension; There cannot be an entirely happy ending to this story.

Until we reach about page 422. Where we get towards the end of our journey. Things start to get hazy. There are components left completely unsaid. People start popping out of nowhere and helping our gang of misfits to resolve the conflict. A conflict which is left COMPLETELY unresolved by the way. It ended in a way so similar to the last novel that I actually became angry. WHAT ABOUT LIV!??

This novel starts out very well and makes me glad that there was a sequel to Beautiful Creatures. But the conflicts that arise in the beginning and that have so much potential for an emotional rollercoaster, I feel do not live up to what they could have been.

This being said. It is worth reading. I will never be able to forget Ethan Wate and Lena, which is why I can already see myself preordering the next edition to this series.
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In Beautiful Darkness, Garcia and Stohl return to the world of Gatlin, where magic and mysterious happenings are afoot in an otherwise idyllic Southern town. Coming off the dramatic supernatural showdown on Lena's 16th birthday, Lena and Ethan are struggling to keep their relationship alive and to move forward, especially since Lena remains grief-stricken over her uncle's death. When Lena starts hanging out with Ridley and a dangerous new guy, Ethan decides to get to the truth about what's happening by traveling through the Caster tunnels underneath Gatlin. What awaits everyone is another dramatic face-off between the forces of Light and Dark, both of whom want Lena on their side.

Earlier this year, I read Beautiful Creatures and enjoyed it, but it left me wanting better pacing, more romance, and a less contrived ending. Unfortunately, BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS didn't provide those things. Pacing dragged for the first 250 pages. Once the pacing picked up, the book switched from being about relationships and the past to being more of a heroic quest of self-discovery for Ethan. Though this could have been interesting, it didn't mesh well with the feel of the first half. Like the previous book, I also didn't find Ethan and Lena's relationship very moving, especially given how Ethan is now treated by Lena (though there is a plot reason). Ethan's voice, while sweet, is beginning to feel less and less believable. He seemed too nice and innocent (and I like good guys, not bad boys), and he never got really angry or scared or asked questions, despite what's happening. Continuity errors also drew me out of the story. Most frustratingly, the conclusion obviously set up things for the sequel, and it did so in a way that was terribly similar to the first book. The world building and mythology felt unnecessarily complicated and too convenient this time too; instead of being able to suspend belief and immerse myself in the story, I kept stopping to notice how things were working out too easily to further the plot or to protect certain characters.

On the positive side, this installment featured the introduction of new, likable characters like Liv and the expansion of existing ones like Link, Ridley, and even Ethan's deceased mother, who seemed to come alive as he learned more about her past. The development of the Caster and Otherworld mythology continued, including a lot of big reveals regarding each person's history and that of their families. A gripping back story for one couple in the past also added to the romance of the story.

Though BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS didn't meet my expectations, I'm sure that those who loved the first book will love this too. In the next sequel, I hope that Garcia and Stohl pick up the pacing and move beyond their set conflict to something more dynamic to keep readers interested and engaged.
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on October 24, 2010
Beautiful Darkness picks up immediately following the events of Beautiful Creatures, and then fast-forwards to the end of the school year. Lena continues to grieve following the death of her Uncle Macon, and she pulls away from Ethan, who doesn't know how to help her despite his own recent experience with loss. Things only get worse for them when two new people come to town, and their doomed romance becomes even more difficult. Can Ethan help Lena choose between Light and Dark, or are the obstacles between Mortal and Caster too great to overcome?

Beautiful Darkness has everything that I loved about the first book, and avoids many of the mistakes that second books fall prey to. I love the setting and the characters, and with 500+ pages, there is plenty of room for both. The book is filled with details about life in Gatlin, and this makes the Mortal world of the story as exotic as the Caster, at least to this Yankee. The problems between Ethan and Lena are also organic to the story. Anyone who has ever reached the end of a paranormal romance and wondered how the relationship will actually really survive once the adventure is over will appreciate this novel. I also love the character of Ethan, and I'm glad that the story continues to be told from his point of view. And though this book leaves me completely satisfied, something else that many second books fail to do, I'm already eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.
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on October 17, 2010
I couldn't wait for the sequel to Beautiful Creatures, here it is, and I am ecstatic!!! I don't usually like sequels and have often been disappointed, but with Beautiful Darkness, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia have done everything but disappoint! And then some......Fabulous! Thank you!
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on October 17, 2010
Here is what I love in Beautiful Darkness, even more than I liked it in Beautiful Creatures: you are following the characters' emotional life even more than the turns in their fantastic world. The magic is great yes, and that is important, but you really experience it with the characters: the dilemnas, and the highs and lows, the agony of trying to get through it all. Garcia and Stohl can really write - and it makes a difference. This isn't just white-skinned creatures with fangs jumping around. 9 times out of 10 "follow up" books are dissappointing and I loose interest in the whole series. That isn't true with Beautiful Darkness. I think Garcia and Stohl (and their characters) were taking baby steps with "Beautiful Creatures" and have hit their stride in "Beautiful Darkness". I am looking forward to seeing where they go next.
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on October 12, 2010
From the back cover:
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. 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...

Review:
Beautiful Darkness is the sequel to Beautiful Creatures, which I also gave 4/5 stars. This is a really good follow on from the first book, it starts immediately where Beautiful Creatures finished which was great for me because it's been awhile since I read it and couldn't remember exactly what had happened, but after only a few pages in to Beautiful Darkness it all came back and I was ready to read on.

Some of the problems I had with the first book - random pacing, events with no follow on - have been eliminated from this one. The story is much more succinct, although I would prefer that the pace was a little faster. It doesn't drag exactly, but I think some of the story could have been sped up a little. I suppose the benefit of Garcia and Stohl taking a bit longer with the story is that there is more time for character and plot development. Also, to my relief, many of the questions left unresolved in the first book are answered and some more of the mystery of who Lena is and what she means for the Order of Things is revealed. The story is neatly wrapped up at the end of the book with some great leads into book three, and again, I can't wait to see where this story goes.

So overall, I thought this was a great read, and likely to be a 'must read' for lots of lovers of YA paranormal romance.
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