The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The beginning of this book was excellent and exceeded all my expectations of it. It had me thinking about where I up to in the story so far on the way to work, or cleaning my teeth, or whilst I was doing my shopping, and I was daydreaming about the characters in this book as though they were real people in my life. I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. I went into this book having only seen a couple of positive star ratings of it from other's reviews- I didn't read any full reviews or try to gauge what it was about- so I had no idea what to expect- I just plunged in- and this was exactly the right thing for me to do, because it meant the mystery unravelled for me at the same pace as it did for the main character Grace.
Grace hasn't seen Daniel since he mysteriously disappeared 3 years ago and her brother Jude was found bleeding on the porch. When Daniel starts showing up at school again, Jude warns Grace to stay away from him- saying that Daniel is bad news but refusing to say why. But Daniel and Grace's connection, coupled with Grace's need to try to help people and their shared love of art makes it hard for them to stay away from each other. The backstory and mythology are woven into the story piece by piece through snippets of rumour, and segments of old letters, until things start fitting into place- or so you think!
I love the fact that Grace and Daniel already knew each other before the story starts. They haven't seen each other in more than 3 years, but it means that they have some shared memories and in-jokes, they know some of each others' secrets, and so it is not just an instantly-in-love-mad-attraction like in some YA novels. This made their whole dynamic so much more believable to me. Now, normally perfect people are really annoying, but Grace was actually very well-written and very likeable. She is the angelic pastor's daughter, and despite being a perfect student, and volunteering at a homeless shelter, Grace has some flaws too, and this is what makes her really relateable. It comes to a point when she has to start lying, sneaking around, and keeping secrets- all of which goes against her character, but all of which she feels is the right thing to do at the time. Daniel is the typical diamond-in-the-rough, coming from a tough background, and having spent a lot of his childhood hiding out at Jude and Grace's house.
The story moves at an interesting pace for the most part with a few twists and turns and unexpected surprises, but I thought it moved a lot slower near the end, and the writing was less clear. It was like the writer wasn't really sure where the story was going and was just filling in time, and the ending was a little like it had just been forced into the standard mould of other paranormal YA novels. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable read and I will read the sequel soon to see what happens next.
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