Title: A Beautiful Evil
Author: Kelly Keaton
Publisher: Simon Pulse
May Contain Spoilers
Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.
After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.
Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine….
I was disappointed with this installment of the Gods and Monsters series, but, in all honesty, Darkness Becomes Her was a tough act to follow. I loved that book, and had built up so many expectations for this sequel, expectations that fell flat. I enjoyed A Beautiful Evil when the fists and swords were flying, but Ari acted in so many frustratingly foolish ways that she almost earned the brand Too Stupid To Live. What saved her from that? Even though she lacks any common sense, she is still a bad ass gorgon in training. When she gets herself together enough to actually use her powers, she is one pretty cool character.
I love the world-building. Every nasty supernatural creature that you can think of has taken up residence in and around New Orleans. Vampires, shifters, witches. All cohabitating in relative peace, but it’s clear that some of the leaders in the Novem are lobbying for more power than they currently have. To make things even more tenuous, there are Greek gods and goddesses stirring up trouble, demi-gods on the loose, and blood-thirsty creatures roving around the Ruins. Not a safe place to call home, but it sure is never boring.
Ari is training to learn to tap into her powers, but because they scare the crap out of her, she isn’t learning much. She fights against them, terrified of turning into the gorgon. I do agree that having snakes for hair would qualify for everyone’s idea of a bad hair day, but think about how awesome it would be to turn your enemies to stone. Maybe not quite so cool to turn your friends and family into marble sculptures, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Or not, and just lock those frightening powers up inside and never learn to use them. Unfortunately for Ari, that is not a practical solution.
Things fell apart for me when Ari kept trying to take the fight directly to Athena. After getting her butt handed to her on a platter, inside the goddess’s own temple, Ari didn’t learn a lesson. She didn’t learn that it is good to back off, train, become stronger, and then go back to fight again. No, she, Sebastian, and Henri march right back into Athena’s clutches, giving the immortal psychopath another opportunity to torture, maim, and humiliate all of them. It made no sense to me. Not only are you going to put yourself in harm’s way by starting a fight that you have no hope of winning, you are going to put two more of the people you care about in the direct path of danger, too. While I guess I could buy into her desperation, given enough belief suspension, what irritated me was Ari promptly passing the buck. Does she blame herself for this? No, she blames Athena.
Caution: Possible Spoiler
In less than twenty-four hours one of my greatest fears had come true. Athena had struck again, hurting someone I cared about. Two someones. Sebastian was hurt and Henri was…gone.
Really, Ari?! It’s your impulsiveness that created the situation you are currently wallowing in, not any fault of Athena’s. I thought that Ari was smarter than that, and this headlong flight into danger, with nary a plan, did not sit well with me.
The battle at the end redeemed the book enough that I will read Book Three. I do want to see how Ari resolves her conflict with Athena, and how she untangles the curse that will turn her into a gruesome monster in just a few years’ time. Maybe, if my expectations are not Mount Olympus sized, I will enjoy the next book in the series more than this one.
Review copy provided by publisher