I really enjoyed The Beauty of Darkness, it was every bit as interesting and gripping as the two previous books and the climax was very satisfying and earned. However, before I started reading, I had read some reviews (very unwise) and while they generally praised the book, they cribbed about Lia and that her character was very more often than through the course of the book but more on that later.
Much like the previous books, the narrative was told in three points of view; Lia, Kaden, Rafe and Pauline. Unlike the those books where it often felt disconnected from the rest of the plot, for once Pauline’s POV felt connected to the larger plot where in the others. The primary focus was still on Lia and her POV drove the narrative forward. The pace was even and consistent with few moments of peace and quiet. Far from feeling chaotic and frenzied, there was instead a sense of urgency and the writing was coherent that made for a rewarding reading experience. The Beauty of Darkness also picks pretty much where The Heart of Betrayal ended which was good because things weren’t looking too positive for our protagonists.
The Beauty of Darkness also had moments which were beyond frustrating but that had more to do with the characters. This time that frustration stemmed from certain characters whose behaviour felt, on the surface, inconsistent with how they behaved previously. But if you look carefully at their behaviour previously, the signs are all there. And this is where I really Pearson’s approach, she gives all sides of the story and doesn’t condemn anyone, she tries to be objective. I also loved how well-written these characters were. They were fully realized and far from perfect. They were stubborn, proud but also loyal, protective and loving.
I’ve liked Lia since the beginning and she has come a long way from where she was when we first met her, where first she was impulsive and quick to fly into a temper. She has become someone who waits and sees what’s happening around her. She has grown more confident in her abilities, understands them better and has begun to tap into them. What I also liked her was her fierce sense of independence. She is truly her own person and makes her own decisions and I especially loved that she refused to let anyone coddle her, even is she loved them. She makes her own decisions and sticks to them. I didn’t see how any of her actions were what those reviews described. I thought she was well within her rights to feel and act the way she did. If anything, Rafe was out of line and his actions were uncalled for, irrespective of how he justified them to himself.
I was glad that we met her mother and understood her better, her actions and the motivation behind them. She loved Lia and all her actions had been to protect her from what destiny had in store for her.
I had loved Rafe in the previous books, he was kind, brave and he loved Lia. But for most of this book, we saw a very different Rafe. He was blunt, stubborn and entirely unwilling to see things from Lia’s perspective. He was so thickheaded that it was close to impossible to sympathise with him. He finally did see sense but by then their relationship already had splinters in it. His actions hurt Lia and broke the trust she had in him.
I really liked Kaden in The Beauty of Darkness, he was no longer pining for Lia. He understood that while she cared for him and did love him in some capacity, it was very different from what she felt for Rafe. He tried to make amends for his actions and while he could never wipe the slate clean, it was a fresh start for him. We saw the kindness and courage that Pauline and Lia saw in him. He stuck by Lia when everyone else doubted her and her plans.
Then there’s Pauline, Berdi and Gwyneth. Pauline was a pillar of strength, her friend, someone Lia desperately needed. There were always there for each other. She too had changed, become a harder person. Berdi and Gwyneth were among her first believers in Morrighan. They stuck by her when everyone believed the worst of her. Then there was Natiya, the child who had her childhood stolen from her.
I really enjoyed The Beauty of Darkness, it was a fitting end to the trilogy, it felt appropriate. It left a good feeling and one that didn’t feel forced or contrived. It was a very satisfying end to a trilogy that was thoroughly enjoyable.