Thursday, 16 December 2010
Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Like the previous instalment, Beautiful Darkness is a fairly lengthy tome. It's not the kind of book you'll race through in an afternoon, and nor should you try to. While the first half is slower than molasses in terms of action, that's precisely how its enchantment works: gradually drawing the reader so deeply into Ethan and Lena's magical world that it feels as vivid and alive as the real one outside its pages. Those who persevere with Beautiful Darkness will find reward in its thrilling conclusion, as the characters brought so perfectly to life by Garcia and Stohl are forced to confront the fact that for all of them, life will never be the same again.
Where some readers may take issue with Beautiful Darkness is in the way that the plot doesn't always play by its own rules. As in Beautiful Creatures, part of what makes the caster world so dangerous is the unthinkable ultimatum faced by Lena Duchannes. We're enthralled because the choice she faces is a terrible one, and the book tells us there's no wriggling out of it. That's the danger at the heart of it. However, as in Beautiful Creatures, the plot doesn't quite deliver on this promise. What we get instead is an intriguing twist that changes the rules of the game - but for better or worse? While some may argue that in evading certain consequences the book loses a little of its dark power, others may relish the promise of even higher stakes next time around.
Beautiful Darkness is another brilliant instalment in the Caster Chronicles series. It's richly drawn and luxuriously detailed and definitely one for readers who like to completely immerse themselves in the world of a story. Spiked with a suprising amount of humour amidst the darkness, it's also filled with quirky and ambiguous characters that readers will take to their hearts. Beguiling.
Out: 28th October 2010, UK
A big thanks to Razorbill / Penguin for providing a review copy of this book.