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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I'm loving this wonderful series set in a fictional small town in South Carolina! The magic is magical and the setting is comfortable and the characters are really likable. Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the Caster Chronicles series, so this review may contain a few spoilers. To read the review of the first book, Beautiful Creatures, click here.

I just about started this review with "this is the first series featuring witches/witchcraft that I've enjoyed!" and then remembered Harry Potter.  But aside from Harry Potter, this is the first series featuring this much magic that I've loved.  The setting grabbed me and pulled me in heart and soul.  The books are set in Gatlin, SC, a small fictional town just outside of Summerville, SC, which is near Charleston, SC.  I grew up in SC!  The authors do a great job representing the state.  I love hearing the descriptions of the food and the culture.  Lena even makes a comment at one point about all the different casseroles that show up on her doorstep when tragedy strikes.  So true!  If someone you loves dies in the South, you can totally expect an avalanche of casseroles to be delivered to your house.  This book happens to take place in June, so there's mention of the climate also.  Again- the authors nail it.  There's mention of the weighty, oppressive heat peppered into the story.  It's all very natural and unobtrusive.  Being a YA book, the action continually moves forward without any lengthy descriptive passages.  Still, the setting itself, with the heat and the culture and the traditional magic (like the Gullah magic that Amma works) almost act as a minor character.

The characters are awesome too.  First, the uniqueness of point of view:  the book is told by Ethan Waite, a non-magical male.  Seems like most of the magical/witchy books are told from the female perspective.  (At least in the YA realm.  I haven't tried any "grown up" witchy books.)  Ethan is such a good guy.  I want to be his friend, and also can't help but wonder if I'd be worthy of being his friend.  He's not perfect- he definitely has some moments- but overall he's so good.  So much better than many actual teenage boys I know.  You can really see the influence of his Amma in him.  I love reading about how much he cares for his family and friends.

Lena is almost a secondary character in this book.  The whole plot is driven by her; is about her; but yet she's not a truly active player in all of it.  Instead, Ethan and Linc spend a large portion of the book "chasing" her.  (I don't want to say too much and spoil anything!)  Just like how the first book was all about a build-up to Lena's sixteenth moon; this book is about her seventeenth moon.  Lena is just as communicative as ever... *insert sarcasm*  And of course you'll have to read the book to find out if she claims herself for light or dark!  It's not obvious:  you'll be on the metaphorical edge of your seat as you read this book.  Along the way, you'll experience lots of Caster magic and all the members of the Ravenwood family and lots of mystery.

I listened to Beautiful Darkness, and the narrator did a fantastic job.  He had a Southern accent that wasn't too overdone or anything.  His pacing and enunciation were spot on.  I would definitely recommend this audiobook.  There were also some sound effects scattered throughout too, which is rare!  They were really well done.  Not too many; not too few.  And each time the seventeen moons song came up, it was actually sung by a female, to music.  I think this is one of those rare cases where the audiobook may actually be slightly better than the physical book!

Overall, a great series and a great book.  Two thumbs up!

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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