Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2) & Dream Dark (Caster Chronicles #2.5) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness is the continuing story of Ethan Wate, whose life was forever changed when Lena Duchannes, a caster, moved into his small southern town of Gatlin. Lena, suffering the loss of her uncle, is pulling away from Ethan and spending more and more time with Ridley and a strange newcomer named John Breed. Lena is keeping things from Ethan and acting more and more like a Dark caster. Meanwhile, Ethan is experiencing visions unlike anything he's had before - visions of the past that will further entangle his own history with the history the town. When Lena, desperate to escape a reality she cannot face and a fate she feels she cannot control, runs away with Ridley and John, Ethan sets out on a journey to find her and bring her back. A journey that will not only have far reaching effects on the people he cares about, but will also revel his own destiny and role he plays in the supernatural world of Gatlin.

Beautiful Darkness was highly predictable and cliche, almost to the point of ridiculousness. As with most paranormal series, book two often finds the lovers being pulled apart as the realities of their doomed relationship begin to sink in. Fans of these types of series know it's coming, and it is the author's challenge to execute this in a way that keeps readers interested. The inevitable love triangle is introduced and we learn that the mortal is not just your average mortal, that somehow they are different and therefore able to exist on the fringes of the supernatural world. Not so sure if I can say this was a successful execution. Lena really got on my nerves in this book and her emotionally riddled tantrum was almost too much to bare at times. It was clear from the beginning that she would end up deserting Ethan, believing that he was better off without her, and that Ethan, having the usually white knight syndrome, would charge after her. I've read this story a thousand times, but this time I had a hard time buying into the story emotionally.

**Some spoilers included, so read with caution**

Of course, book two also introduces the star crossed lovers to the third option, creating the inevitable love triangle, or in this case rectangle. Both Lena and Ethan find themselves presented with a possible alternative to each other, an easier choice to be made. Lena's option I get. John is a supernatural being who can understand Lena in a way that Ethan cannot. Ethan's was something else entirely. Liv (another L name), is a research assistant and Keeper-in-training from England. Ethan and Liv become friends as they both work at the library, and somewhere along the way they apparently fall of each other. I don't know if Ethan was just feeling rejected by Lena, or what, but this whole thing annoyed the crap out of me. Ethan was supposed to be the steadfast one, the one who doesn't give up, and I was annoyed that this story line was introduced at all. I think it was unnecessary and underdeveloped. It was clear that Ethan would never chose anyone else other than Lena and to suggest otherwise was stupid.

Finally, we also discover that Ethan is in fact not just your average mortal - shock and dismay!! He is in fact a Wayward, a mortal guide for the supernatural. His family's history is explored more and we find things out about his mother's past, which are of course ensnared in Lena's family history. Again, predictable. The only thing that saves this book is that it is action packed. Most of the story is about Ethan's journey to find and save Lena. It of course ends with another cliff hanger and no resolution.

Dream Dark is a short little novella which focuses on Link and his transformation after being bitten by John in the tunnels. I really like Link as a character and he is obviously the comic relief in this series. He's also an amazing loyal friend to Ethan, having his back when others would have walked away. I am hoping that this side story indicates that Link will play a larger role in the remainder of the series. His antics are endearing and he is one of the few characters that I don't find myself annoyed with on a regular basis. It remains to be seen how the journey Macon sends him on will effect the larger story or if it will even be eluded to in the third book. Nevertheless, as annoyed as I am with this series I can't help but finish it, even though I am pretty sure I know what is coming...

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