A BEAUTIFUL DARK
Paranormal Young Adult
Available September 27th
Received from publisher for review
It hasn't been an easy seventeen years for Skye. She lost her parents in a car crash when she was younger and was taken in by her Aunt Jo. As nice as her Aunt Jo is, her job keeps her away for days and weeks at a time, leaving Skye alone to fend for herself. She's got good friends though and is striving to maintain her stellar grades to get into a great college, hoping to carve out a new life for herself on her own.
On the night of her seventeenth birthday, Skye meets both Asher and Devin when they get into a public fight at the coffee shop where her party's being thrown. As it turns out, both boys are new transfers to her high school and seem more than innocently interested in her and her whereabouts, making her wonder if there's more to them than their pretty faces.
Two boys suddenly taking a keen interest in her is odd enough, but more and more strange things begin happening right around her birthday. The boiler at the coffee shop exploded that night she met the boys. She makes the thermostat in her house rise off the charts and break. And on her school's ski trip, she gets caught in an avalanche only to be saved by Asher and healed by Devin. They seem to know a lot about her, and when they finally explain to her their purpose and her role in all the odd occurrences, she's not sure she can handle her new importance. But the boys need her to choose a side and the time she has to make her decision is rapidly running out.
A Beautiful Dark slowly eases us into a battle of light versus dark but successfully blends the sides together to a degree where a separation between the two becomes nearly indecipherable, and we struggle along with Skye to determine who falls on which side of the line and where the line itself is even drawn. Like Skye, we are clueless as to the fight between the Order and the Rebellion, fledgling newcomers together to Ms. Davies's world of the supernatural as we try to make sense of the cryptic messages spewing from two attractively mysterious young men. We find ourselves drawn easily into the story, hungry for more history and more intriguing intricacies we know are purposefully being held just out of our reach, and we find our patience tested as Skye's is, waiting and wanting desperately for a little crystal clear illumination.
Though we are thankful for Skye's ignorance with regard to her heritage so we need not feel alone in our own, Skye herself plants a few blockades in our path when we try to connect to her. When confronted with tiny pieces of the truth (something that doesn't happen until 150 pages in), she slips into a somewhat tiresome cycle of acceptance and denial. She often decides to allow Asher and Devin to try to teach her what they know only to get frustrated and resort to ignoring them and the changes taking place in the vain hope they'll magically disappear. She also waffles in her attraction to both boys when neither of them seems overly worthy of her attention, making us question her judgment and wonder what she's seeing that we simply aren't.
Both Asher and Devin have moments where we feel we're on the brink of understanding their appeal and our hearts begin to warm to them, only to have one or the other blow shockingly cold and snuff out the small spark that was beginning to ignite our affection. They both claim to have feelings for Skye despite the rules and regulations of their mission warning them against it, but the sincerity of their claims is continually called into question through one gesture or another as they both advance and retreat in a dizzying romantic duel. There is no doubt potential in both of them, but in this first installment they seem to be nothing but smoke and mirrors when we desperately need someone to let us see behind the curtain and touch something tangible.
Additionally, barely any information is revealed to us about the two factions battling for Skye's allegiance for the first several hundred pages, and then toward the end we witness revelation after revelation in rapid succession, culminating in a cliffhanger that has us blinking stupidly in disbelief that it's over. While we wish information could have been distributed a little more evenly throughout the story, the conclusion is undeniably action-packed and surprising, brilliantly turning us into bait squirming on a hook before we even realize it's happening, and we become more involved at that moment than we have been at any point previously. That hook finds it's way under our skin quickly, content to be a permanent reminder for us to pick up book two with the lingering hope we'll be brought into the fold if we just keep reading.