Do You Believe in Magic?
The biggest issue in sequels and series, more often than not, is that later titles are never as good as the first. Of course, there have been titles and series where this is obviously not true, as well. I was pretty delighted to find that Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures, is IMHO better than its predecessor. I’d been really excited to read both books in this series since I got an ARC of the second at ALA. If you read my review on Beautiful Creatures, you’ll know that I thought the authors did a beautiful job creating the mythology of the magic in that novel. This second novel is abundant in magic, which makes this girl REALLY HAPPY. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I have always been a little obsessed with magic of all sorts. I love love LOVE princesses and fairy tales. I spent quite a bit of my childhood determined that I was a FABULOUS magician. Boxes of memorabilia in my parents’ attic can attest to an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter. The recent surge in urban fantasy and paranormal romance has been like heaven to me. There is this little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, magic is real.
If any of the previous has left you thinking “Man, this girl is nuts!”, Beautiful Darkness might not be the book for you. Creatures presented us with a very typical Southern small town, with the magical aspects very slowly appearing throughout the novel and presented as a very small and hidden underworld of the town. In Darkness, that underworld takes center-stage and the reader realizes this is much, much bigger than just a few magical people living in a normal town. So basically, although this continues the story from the first book, I kind of felt like this was a totally different kind of book. Although, this kind of makes sense. Ethan is getting farther and farther into the magic, so the book has to become more and more focused on the magic. But still, this makes it a different kind of book. The first book is so much about teenage relationships and learning to trust another person, with the magical aspects being important but merely a detail in this larger romantic story. On the other hand, this book is about the relationship between Ethan and Lena, but much more so about Ethan understanding the magical world and avoiding an epic magical war. I think this difference is important because I felt as though I was making progress and getting deeper into the story, whereas if we just had more magic girl in normal world drama, this book might have felt stale.
At this point, you’re probably like “Come on, Sarah, give us the dirty details.” Well okay then!
- Amma is awesome!!!! If you’ve read Creatures, you know this. In this book, she gets even more A.W.E.S.O.M.E., with capital letters.
- Lena is a crazy person. You’re probably gonna hate her this time around.
- Ridley actually has depth. I knew it!
- Link is smarter than you think. I just wanna give him a big hug.
- Magic exists where you least expect. This is a reoccurring theme.
- It wouldn’t be magic if there wasn’t an ancient war going on. Duh!
- And…best of all…Link’s mom watches Cat Week. It’s like Shark Week with cats. Strangely funny that Ellen just did Cat Week on her show last week.
I know, I know. These details aren’t very dirty. I just really don’t want to spoil this one for you. It’s too good. I will admit that quite a few of the plot twists were obvious before they happened. However, I also had quite a few moments where I was like, “WOAH! You got me!” I do think that part of the fun of a book is trying to figure things out and I think that this book provided a good balance of foreshadowing and complete surprise.
If I have anything to negative to say about this book, it’s only that after the intense ending of the first book, the beginning of this book is kind of calm. Therefore, at first, it took me a little bit to get into it. I think this was because I was ready to get right into more intrigue, whereas the beginning of this book is heavy on basic exposition to get people the back story if they haven’t read Creatures or if they have forgotten some of the detail. However, once this book gets into its central plot arc, it really moves.
I urge you to check this series out, especially if you are into any of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy stuff that’s really big lately. This second novel in the series, Beautiful Darkness, hits stores Tuesday, October 12. (That’s next week, so you should be pretty excited!)