If I had been blessed with Amma’s finger-licking cooking all my life, and suddenly the delectable Southern cuisine lost all of its palatability, I’d know something was rotten in the state of Denmark, too.
That’s only one negativity haunting Ethan throughout Beautiful Chaos, the third book in the Caster Chronicles series. Though all is, for the most park, right in his and Lena’s relationship – their inability to touch without Lena eventually short-winding Ethan is still present, as is Lena’s jealousy of Liv and Ethan’s abhorrence of John Breed – all is far from well in Gatlin. In the second installment (which I reviewed, underwhelmed, in December), Lena’s choosing between Light and Dark – or, rather, not choosing – caused a disruption in the Order of Things. Now the grass is brown, and the insects are taking over, and the lake is dry, and Link’s mom thinks the plagues of Moses are descending upon the earth. What really are descending, however, are the dark casters and Incubi.
This book is noteworthy for its multi-facets: the teens must find the One Who Is Two, Amma is “going dark” and traveling to New Orleans via the tunnels, Ridley is a complete mystery, and John Breed metaphorically hangs in the air as a threat, or blessing, or captive or innocent caster-blend. Though it does overlook some seemingly major issues (why is there only humor regarding the fact that Link is now park Incubus?), it certainly harks back to the mystery and delight of the first book, Beautiful Creatures.
Once you hit the just pre-midway point, it’s almost impossible to put this novel down. Something is going on with Ethan that we don’t quite understand, and we have our theories, which may be proved, disproved, and proved again (as they did for me) like a major rat-race mystery, YA style. Lena is an emo anomaly in and of herself (regrettably, she doesn’t 100% redeem herself for me after her idiocy in the second book), especially as she watches the complex visions of her mother Sarafine turning into a Dark caster. Through these visions, we see Sarafine try to ignore her dark side and pursue a relationship with Lena’s father, a Light caster. Abraham, however, intervenes and helps draw Sarafine more to the Dark side. We then watch as Lena and Ethan flash back on the day Sarafine set her home on fire, leaving her husband and daughter to burn. This all, understandably, strikes a major chord with Lena.
I still have a major qualm with Ridley, as I have had since the beginning of the series. Although she may not be “Dark” per se in this novel, she still feels the need to topple the cheerleading pyramid to show off at basketball practice. It seems to me that if Sarafine is a Dark caster, and she is setting fire to her family, Ridley should be a little deeper than trivial high school pranks. In any event, she still proves to be an interesting one in this novel, and I’m eager to see how she’ll pan out in the final installment. Speaking of final installment, once you finish this third book, it’ll be impossible not to immediately download the e-book of the fourth. Cliff hanger, much?