Beautiful Darkness | Book Review

Please be aware that this is the second book in a series. I attempt to not include spoilers and references to events and important character information in any of my reviews, however it is recommended that you have read the first book in the series, Beautiful Creatures, before reading this review.  Check out my review for Beautiful Creatures.

Beautiful Darkness
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Book 2 of 'The Caster Chronicles' series

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harboured ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen. 

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Recommended for those who enjoy:
gothic teen novels, teen romance, supernatural becomings, blossoming love, 'coming of age' transitions, freedom from being stuck in one place, fantasy fiction

Cold Tea and Crumbs rating:  ★★★

My thoughts:
Firstly, to sum up this book in one word it's 'WOW'. Continuing off where Beautiful Creatures (Book 1 in 'The Caster Chronicles') finished, this story grabbed me by about chapter 3 and I was hooked from then on in. To say that this book is miles better than the first is an understatement!

Following on from Lena's not quite so sweet sixteenth birthday and it's saddening end, Lena is understandably not the best company to be around, especially for Ethan, who just wants to support her and get her through this difficult time. Poor Ethan though, everything he does seems to be wrong and it's made all the more worst when John Breed turns up in town, hot on Ridley's heels, and seems to be manipulating Lena to ignore Ethan and spend her time with him instead. With her looming 'Claiming' now scheduled for her seventieth birthday, Ethan is worried about Sarafine's plans and if she'll succeed in turning Lena 'dark'.

When the trio (Lena, John and Ridley) go off in search for the Caster's Paradise (a place where Lena can truly be herself around others who too are 'different'), Ethan is shortly in tow fearing the worst for Lena as he is weary of John and his 'abilities' as well as Sarafine. With his friends there to help, Link and new character Liv, he quickly discovers more about the Caster tunnels that are below Gatlin and beyond and also uncovers more about his mother and her past within the Caster community.

Overall this book was a fantastic read, with so many different twists and turns. If I were to even mention one of them it would ruin the book for you. Some story developments were predictable but the one's that weren't had be gobsmacked and needing time to process the delicious surprise my brain had just discovered. Undeniably, a book worthy of 5 stars!

Over to you:
Have you read Beautiful Darkness, what did you think of it? Enjoyed reading it or disliked it?
Have you read any more of the series, do they continue to get better or does the story peak with book 2?

Beautiful Creatures Book and Movie Differences

The Beautiful Creatures story was developed into a movie in early 2013 which received mixed reviews from those who had previously read the book.
I actually watched the movie before I read the book and therefore may be coming from a different perspective regarding the differences between the book and movie. I think both have their good and less-good aspects, I prefer the book due to the story making more sense the way it is all 'stitched' together. I thoroughly enjoyed the character Ethan though in the movie and loved the humour that was added into it.

Here's a run-down of the differences between the book and the movie for anyone who's wondering which to spend the time reading/watching (WARNING: spoilers are included as all differences are listed including the ending) and for those who want a remember before they read the second book in the series, Beautiful Darkness.

Character Differences

Book Movie
Basketball player and all-around high school popular kid. He's craving to get out of Gatlin and is looking for something or someone to provide some kind of break from the mundaneness that is his small Southern town.
Popular kid who's 'in' with the 'in-crowd'. He's been dating Emily Asher a 'DAR' girl. No mention of playing basketball but there is a scene in which he's prepping for a track and field session. Wants to leave Gatlin and go to college.
Drives a black hearse, carries around a notebook and writes in it regularly, wears all her sentimental 'trinkets' on a necklace.

Drives a yellow VW beetle, still writes but seems to be confined to her bedroom walls, no 'trinket' necklace.
Dream stealing Incubus who is Lena's guardian and chooses to be light for Lena's benefit.

Magical and knowledge of the Caster community but never explained as to what his powers are or what he is.
Amma is a 'carer/helper' towards Ethan and his family. Crossword enthusiast and a 'Seer' who's family have been aware and helping the Casters in Gatlin for centuries. Marian is the Gatlin librarian and 'Keeper' for the Caster library. She was also Ethan's mother's best friend and research partner.

The characters of Amma and Marian are connected into on 'Amma' who is still a 'Seer' and acts as a guardian to Ethan. She is also the Gatlin librarian and Caster library 'Keeper'. No mention of her love for crosswords. 
Blonde 'cheerleader type' who is a Siren and can control people through her 'lollipop powers', especially men or boys! She's Lena's cousin, although they were more like sisters, and is a Dark Caster.

Sophisticated, manipulative dark haired Siren Dark Caster who's Lena's cousin. A lot more 'classier' and 'travelled' than described in the book.
Ethan's Mum & Dad
Mother died in an unexplainable accident, had been 'friends' with Macon. Ethan's father is present but 'lost' after the mother's death. He comes out occasionally from his office.

Mother died in accident, had been 'friends' with Macon. Only brought up once or twice in conversation. Ethan's father is a complete 'shut-away'. He is never seen.
Missing Characters
Lena's cousin Ryan, who is able to 'read' people and their intentions through a single look.
Boo Radley, Macon's wolf-like dog, who acts as his eyes during the day. Follows Lena around.
Ethan's three aunts and their cat Lucille.

All missing from the movie adaption.

Storyline Differences

Book Movie
Deleted Scenes
Lena's birthday party.
Ridley aiding Ethan's father to launch himself off a balcony with her Siren ways.
Snow ball school dance
Added Scenes
When Sarafine appears to Macon in the church during the town meeting about Lena after the window smashing incident.
Ethan's magical experiences at Ravenwood - His near death after a run-in with one of Macon's protection spells on the house and Macon's magical methods of retrieving Ethan's subconscious thoughts of his future.
Ridley's claiming scene.
Changed Storyline Aspects in the Movie that differ in the Book
No 'Sixteen Moons' song.
No mention of the 'strong' bond between Lena and Ethan that allows them to telepathically communicate 'Kelting' and Ethan feels like he's catching fire and losing breath when they kiss for a long period of time.The locket is less of a lead but rather just a background information prop, The locket doesn't lead them to finding the 'Book of Moons' and Genevieve's grave.
No mention of the consequences of Lena's choice between the Dark and the Light, the death of the non-chosen side 'Light /Dark' family members. The movie also states that she has no choice and is cursed to go Dark no matter what because of the curse brought on my Genevieve's previous actions.
In the movie Ethan is spelt to forget everything he has experiences and felt for Lena due to the implications of breaking the curse via 'losing a loved one'. Thus the whole scene where he 'remembers' Lena by the goodbye sign at the end of the movie is not in the book.
Completely different ending, in the book Ethan actually dies from a knife wound inflicted by Sarafine and Lena uses the Book of Moons to bring him back just like Genevieve did in the past and this is how Macon dies rather than the movies 'change of appearance' reason for Macon's death.

Book Review | Beautiful Creatures

This review contains no spoilers and no reference to events or character information that may ruin your reading pleasure.

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Book 1 of the 'Caster Chronicles' series

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Recommended for those who enjoy:
gothic teen novels, teen romance, supernatural becomings, blossoming love, 'coming of age' transitions, freedom from being stuck in one place, fantasy fiction

Cold Tea and Crumbs rating:  ★★★★☆

My thoughts:
Beautiful Creatures is a compelling tale narrated by Ethan Wate, a boy stuck in a 'middle of nowhere' Southern USA small town who longs to escape and discover the 'outside' word. Ethan's plans are to finish high school as quick as possible and then attend any college that will accept him, that is until Lena Duchannes moves to town and starts to stir up the small town folk and strange occurrences begin happening. Ethan's now more preoccupied with learning more about Lena and her secrets.

Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes may be the main characters in the book but I personally 'warmed' to other characters more than these two. My favourite has to be Macon Ravenwood the loveable eccentric whose best interests are always in ensuring that Lena is safe, whether that is from the typical high school students or the more supernatural beings. I do however like that it's written from Ethan's perspective which is a welcome difference to the usual female narration.

The story is predictable most of the time but name me a book that isn't! I enjoyed reading Beautiful Creatures as it was an escape during my lunchtime breaks or an easy read before I went to sleep. It didn't take me too long to finish it, approximately 3 weeks when reading about 30 minutes a day. I actually chose to read this book after watching the movie and although I enjoyed it, I felt there were large elements missing from the movie and aspects of it that didn't seem to piece together properly. After reading the book and rewatching the movie, there is differently more meaning to aspects of it. Warning: The movie does not follow the book closely at all, there are a lot of aspects missing from the film and an altogether different ending! I'll be addressing these in a post to follow for those who want to  find out or to discuss. Stay tuned for that soon.

Over to you:
Have you read Beautiful Creatures, what did you think of it? Enjoyed reading it or disliked it? Whose your favourite character?
Have you read the book and watched the movie? Which did you like best?

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