A Beautiful Dark (Beautiful Dark #1)

A Beautiful DarkBy Jocelyn Davies

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

Goodreads Summary

Having been orphaned at an early age on her birthday, Skye never thinks of the day as anything to celebrate, but she lets her friends push her into some sort of party each year anyway. This year they’ve gone all out and thrown her a surprise birthday party, complete with half of the student body present plus a couple of uninvited guests – two guys no one’s ever seen before. Skye’s party ends abruptly when a violent fight breaks out between them.

Asher and Devin show up at school and immediately start watching Skye. Asher flirts and gets in her personal space while Devin stalks, stares and occasionally tells her to beware of Asher. When the three of them go on an ill-fated school ski trip, both guys let things slip that make her begin to question who her parents were and who and what they are. The things they tell her change everything – her past and future – and she’ll have to make a choice soon between what Asher offers or what Devin does because neither side will let her remain neutral and live.

I would never be so shallow as to choose a book based on a gorgeous cover like this one (yes I would), but I was really intrigued by the second paragraph of the blurb despite the wincing likelihood of a love triangle ahead. “Dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter,” is just a terrific bit of wording.

This gets off to a little bit of a slow start. Most of the beginning third of the book is simply Skye adjusting to the guys being at school with her and dealing with her friends’ reaction the whole thing. There’s not really anything paranormal happening and not any hint of what she or Asher or Devin are. There were definitely times I was frustrated with the pace – it was pretty clear the guys were there for a reason and something was going on with Skye. The constant innuendo and poking at each other was driving me nuts.

By the second half of the book the relationship triangle became less about who Skye was able to be in love with and more about what she wanted for the rest of her life. Neither guy was exactly as he appeared to be and her “choice” wasn’t as clear cut as it seemed. Asher wasn’t just dangerous and unpredictable – calm needs his chaos for balance and his flirtatious nature masked a deeply protective side. Devin is more than just a fair-haired champion willing to fight Asher for her. His Zen-like nature soothes Skye and gives her a glimpse of the peaceful, orderly life she could have.

I found Skye on the sliding character scale somewhere between normal and maddeningly plucky-perfect but where she ended up always had more to do with who she was with than who she was. She’d been placed under the guardianship of her mother’s best friend when her parents died and this woman is gone for long periods of time, leaving Skye to fend for herself. Really? Skye hasn’t had any abandonment issues ever? Plucky-perfect. She also has a great circle of friends that I especially enjoyed reading about. Cassie, Dan and Ian (who has a crush on Skye) are insanely normal and ground the story by doing regular things like having a daily lunch in the cafeteria with her where they watch Asher and his gaggle of admirers, cleaning up the aftermath of her birthday party at the coffee house where Ian works and hanging out on the bus on the way to a ski trip. Probably everyone’s had a Cassie, Dan or Ian in their circle of friends and can relate to them and I wish they’d have stayed in the story longer.

By the time the really heavy duty part of the paranormal story kicks in, all of Skye’s normal life has faded away and the story became quite gripping. I’d pretty much figured out which way she’d choose to go if forced but wasn’t prepared for the way things worked out. The story got way too busy and the ending was just ridiculous. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers in established series’ and I’m definitely not a fan of them in the first book of a new author’s.

My Summary: I liked this book a lot, even if it had the basic components of a love triangle (sort of quadrangle), which has the power to make me bang my head on the wall. The twist on the angel mythology really kept me interested, has plenty of room for exploration and eventually all of the characters won me over. This was an A rated book all the way to the last handful of pages but I just can’t give a perfect grade to a book that ends with the absolute cliffhanger this one did. In my opinion, it was overdone, the literary equivalent of the end of a soap opera on a Friday afternoon to the nth degree.

My Rating: B



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