Title: A Beautiful Dark (A Beautiful Dark #1)
Author: Jocelyn Davies
Released: 27th September 2011
Rating: 5/5 stars
When I’m fully engaged in what I’m reading and it’s all cute and exciting, I have this thing where I can’t stop smiling and I’m in a good mood and a little bit random. Yes, I’m weird, I know. One brother looks at me like I’m crazy, the other tells me to be quiet (not so politely) and my dad just says, ‘She’s off again’ in a tone that says he doesn’t expect anything less by this point. But the point is, I’ve been in kind of a haze lately, like my brain was full of cotton wool and though I was enjoying some of the stuff I was reading, I wasn’t really connecting with it. A Beautiful Dark got through that fog.
Skye’s seventeenth birthday triggers a chain of events she didn’t see coming, and it all starts with the birthday party – one she never wanted in the first place. Just seconds after two mysterious strangers get into a fight, what’s first assumed to be an earthquake forces the party to a head. Thinking that to be the end, she’s shocked to find that those same strangers, Asher and Devin, are now going to her school. Not only that, more weird stuff is happening. She soon realises there’s more to Asher and Devin than it appears, that they belong to two different sides, and their story is going to bring her life crashing down around her, and with it, a question: which side will she choose?
I know what you’re thinking. Angels, Nephilim, you’ve heard it all before. Think again. This book doesn’t even use the word Nephilim. I guess, now that I think about it, I can see some parallels between the angel story here and elsewhere, but the way it’s set out makes it seem completely different – in some ways, is different. I love the idea of there being two opposite sides, neither one quite what you’d expect despite their obvious labels of light and dark, good and evil, Order and Rebellion. The conditions that come with being a part of one of these factions aren’t exactly ones you’d accept lightly and Davies does a great job of showing that, however great or ideal something seems on the surface, there is always more to it.
Skye was definitely likeable. She’s remarkably mature: persevering, very academically focused and her experiences mark her more than they would someone else. What I found moving was that it was all for her parents, who died when she was six. Mostly she was tough and tried to get on with things as best she could, but occasionally that vulnerability would show. Despite such a tragedy, it didn’t make her resentful of legal guardian Aunt Jo. It was sweet to see how much they loved each other. Skye’s best friend, Cassie, was a little annoying at first, but that soon went away and she proved to be a good friend. Ian and Dan weren’t hugely present for me, though I did appreciate Dan’s concern for Skye. There was a bit of confusion in her when it came to Asher and Devin, which I can see putting some readers off, but I think there was a heavy incline toward Asher.
This brings me nicely to the two angels, or as Devin corrects Skye, Malakh, meaning messenger. Devin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed and white-winged as he is, belongs to the Order, the faction responsible for peace. Being on the side of the light, you’d think he’d be friendly and understanding, right? That’s what I’d expect, anyway. But actually, he’s more on the pushy and less on the understanding. In a way I feel bad for being critical of him, given that he has no choice – literally. In the Order, you either set the rules, or you follow them, and Devin falls into the latter category. Despite that, I couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated at how closed off he could be. There were times when another side to him emerged, but no sooner did that happen than he was back to his old self. But then again, the last time we see him in the book...you see how there are two completely different angles to look at him and how confusing it can get.
Asher, our traditional tall, dark and handsome, is a Rebel. He was cheeky, flirtatious, always joking around but also serious at times – in short, completely lovable. When you think of a group being ‘light’ or ‘good’, you immediately assume or are told that the other is the exact opposite. In this case, I don’t think that applies. Neither side is good and neither side is bad, something the author explores well here. Davies keeps you on your toes. There’s one obvious point where the reader isn’t sure whether to trust Devin or not, but when it came to Asher, no sooner do you completely put your faith in him than something happens to make you realise, perhaps you were wrong.
Overall, this book completely surpassed my expectations. I’ve seen quite a few negative ratings for this and a friend of mine warned me expressly, so I was a little cautious, but thankfully it worked out fine for me. With an engaging plotline, some great characters and a killer ending (no pun intended ;D), this is definitely one to get your hands on.