A Beautiful Evil. New York: Simon Pulse.
Appetizer: In this sequel to Darkness Become Her, it's only been a few days since the devastating events that concluded the prequel and Ari is still in the remnants of New Orleans, living in the Garden District with a handful of misfits, attending to elite school to learn more about her enemy the goddess Athena and mourning the losses she experienced at the end of Darkness Becomes Her.
Her love interest, Sebastian, has been avoiding her ever since he and others saw what Ari will become once her curse takes full-effect in a few years. Ari's only hope is to find a way to unravel the curse before than and save the people she cares about who Athena captured at the end of Darkness Becomes Her.
This was a nice fast-paced continuation to Ari's story. The fantasy world was easier to accept now that it was previously established. Although, the way magic is differentiated from curses later on in the book to allow some characters still remain powerful in Athena's temple realm was a little forced. I also still struggle with the godess Athena being the primary antagonist. I feel like Keaton could have created her own original bad guy effectively without twisting one of my favorite characters from Greek myth. (Sorry, my bias for Athena was showing a little there.)
I found myself wishing for a map of the reconstructed New Orleans that Keaton envisions. A listing of all the Novem families, their powers and who belongs to which house also wouldn't have hurt. (But hey, now that would be a great extra credit opportunity for a student who chose to read this book.)
Keaton once again did a good job of providing rich descriptions of New Orleans and the French Quarter. As someone who lives in Louisiana, I did have one practical concern or two. As I kept reading, I wondered if she imagined the city as being in a constant state of celebrating Mardi Gras or something. Yes, it is a week (or two!) of celebrations, but it's also a half-week or so of NO SCHOOL. So, when Ari was attending school, I was a little confused. Plus, while Keaton includes multiple parties, Lundi Gras and Lent are never really mentioned. I'm guessing this is a point when research falls short to personal experience. Cool points for describing king cake though!
Also, along with drowning girls, has anybody else noticed that there are a lot of Medusa books that involve a lot of hair-snakes recently?
It's a great image, but I think that the cover designers need to sit down, talk and agree to avoid so much overlap.
"'Everyone knows what you are now. Question is, Selkirk, will you live up to their expectations or be the complete failure I think you really are?'
My pulse thundered like a herd of galloping horses. Sweat rolled down my back, dampening my shirt and the waistline of my jeans. Tiny wisps of hair stuck to my face and neck. I kept my eyes shut and dug my short fingernails into the wrist I held tightly, wishing I could inflict some pain...or better yet, make him shut the-- (p. 1)
"The goddess of wisdom had created a god killer.
And once she'd realized that, she'd charged Perseus with killing her creation, which he did. But what neither of them had counted on was Medusa's child, who had been hidden away--a child who was cursed like her mother to have strange eyes and hair the color of moonlight, a child who would follow in her mother's footsteps and become a monster in her twenty-first year, the same age Medusa had been when she was cursed
And so it began, from mother to daughter, all the way down to me.
And according to the curse, I had less than four years left." (40-41)
"The sun was up fully by the time I stepped off the streetcar and headed down Royal Street for another day at Presby. Morning light bathed the French Quarter, turning it into a sparkling jewel.
Motor vehicles were prohibited in the Quarter, which took the place back a hundred years and increased the number of mules and carriages. The tourists loved it. I did too--no constant drone of engines, no hons or brakes, no smell to clog the air." (p. 68)
"'Ari,' Sebastian said, stopping as we hit the turn in the stairs. "I know I can't go into the library with you, but whatever you learn in there...I can help on the outside. Athena screwed up my life too."
"I know she did," I respond quietly.
"And I know you're the type who likes to do things alone," he said, arching his brow. "It takes one to know one. But"--he grabbed my arm and pulled me into the corner as a group of students went by--"don't run off and do this by yourself.'" (p. 71)
"'[Sebastian's] interest in you is merely rebellion. You are different. Forbidden. Something he knows is wrong.' Her darks eyes traveled over my features. "He sees beauty now, is lured by it, even though he knows what lies beneath is evil. So intriguing, this flirting with danger." She flicked a glance at the jar. "Pandora was the same way, you know? A deceptive package. The Greek writers called her Kalon Kakon, a beautiful evil. It won't be long before you destroy those around you, just like she did." (pp. 88-89)
Tasty Rating: !!!