A Beautiful Evil

A Beautiful Evil

4.5 44
by Kelly Keaton
     
 

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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

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Overview

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....

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If I could become a character in a fictional world, I would pick this one. Action and romance combine with good storytelling and an alluring world. More, please!”

—Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series

“Filled with action and suspense. Readers will continue to root for Ari’s triumph over Athena, hoping that she breaks the curse that plagues her future.” —VOYA, December 2011

"Packed with action and hints of romance, [Kelly Keaton's A Beautiful Evil] pairs well with fans of Rick Riordan and Stephenie Meyer."
Recommended.
Library Media Connection, May/June 2012

"Percy Jackson meets Anne Rice."
—School Library Journal, May 2012

VOYA - Gwen Amborski
A Beautiful Evil is a paranormal novel with mythology added to its plot. The characters are riveting and well explained—they feel like friends by the end of the book. Ari's persistence to break her curse helps build interest in the story. Teens who enjoy Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments novels and Aimee Carter's The Goddess Test (Harlequin Teen, 2011/VOYA June 2011) will enjoy this novel and look forward to more in this planned series. 3Q, 3P. Reviewer: Gwen Amborski, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Adrienne Amborski
Ari, a seventeen-year-old with tresses of silver that cannot be cut or changed, harbors the Medusa curse, which will change her to a full-fledged gorgon with malevolent powers on her twenty-first birthday. A mystical New Orleans is inhabited by the Novem, descendants of nine paranormal families. Witches, vampires, and shape-shifters have taken control of the city after the Greek goddess Athena unleashed apocalyptic hurricanes upon the region. Continuing the story from the first book in the series, Darkness Become Her (Simon Pulse, 2011/VOYA February 2011), Ari is fighting to break her curse with the help of a group of misfit teens living on the fringe of New 2, which New Orleans is now called. Ari's romance with half-vampire, half-witch Sebastian continues to develop, along with her fight to defeat the deliciously evil Athena. Elements of Greek mythology are woven into this story, which is filled with action and suspense. When Ari must face Athena in a mythological realm, she must come to terms with her powers and face losing Sebastian to her curse. Although Ari is tough, her vulnerability is exposed. Teens will identify with her questions and concerns for her future. Readers will anticipate the next book and continue to root for Ari's triumph over Athena, hoping that she breaks the curse that plagues her future. Strong language and sexual tension make this novel appropriate for older teens and adults who enjoy an intriguing mix of paranormal and mythological elements. Reviewer: Adrienne Amborski
Kirkus Reviews
A gorgon and her aristocrat vampire boyfriend wage battle against the goddess Athena in this action-filled paranormal romance set in New 2—a futuristic, crumbling New Orleans. This follow-up to Darkness Becomes Her (2011) again features Ari, an appealingly tough heroine, schooled in the techniques of bail bondsmen by her foster parents. Picking up where the first left off, Ari hurries to learn all she can about mastering her gorgon power so she can rescue both her father and Violet, one of the ragtag group of misfits with whom she lives in New 2, from Athena's realm. Interesting reworking of Greek myth and deft plotting will intrigue and engage readers, though the use of trite phrases may pull them out of their immersion in the story: Ari's love interest, Sebastian, is described as having "…pale skin, raven hair, and naturally dark red lips paired with a rebel attitude and a poet's soul," and Athena commands her at one point to "Chill, gorgon…or you'll miss the best part." Ari's gruff but introspective narration serves to nicely flesh out her character, allowing her to be both brave and vulnerable. While secondary players remain one-dimensional, including bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold Sebastian, fans of the first will enjoy this and clamor for the next. Interesting ideas, flawed execution. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Percy Jackson meets Anne Rice in a familiar meal of a book that includes some paranormal standby ingredients vigorously blended with Greek myth. A post-hurricane-apocalyptic New Orleans called New 2 is owned and run by nine magical families that make up the Novem. Nothing much is fresh in this series that began with Darkness Becomes Her (S & S, 2011), but the dilemma of 17-year-old protagonist Ari does stand out. Offspring of a cursed Gorgon who fell in love with a hunter of goddess Athena's army, she sports a head full of shiny white hair that can be turned into writhing snakes when she is spelled or antagonized, presumably allowing her to turn people to stone. Ari fears that her Gorgon state will become permanent at 21, but she may be one of the only beings capable of killing a god, perhaps even Athena herself, the source of her line's curse and the antagonist who wishes to use her as weapon. Ari attends the Novem's exclusive school with Sebastian, her half witch, half vampire love interest. She trains for an eventual showdown with Athena, surviving bouts with Bran, a demigod, and researches at the secret library to reach the mystical temple and win back her father and friend, taken captive by the steely goddess at the end of book one. Nice New Orleans flavor seasons the mix, but it's still derivative. That said, a lot of teens who gobble up supernatural romances or those who enjoyed the first book won't complain.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442409279
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Publication date:
02/21/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,023,514
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

ONE

“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—

“Do it!” he snarled, his breath fanning across my forehead.

A head butt might work. Bone would crack. Blood would flow. Sweet satisfaction—and even sweeter silence—would ensue. “I’m trying,” I said through gritted teeth.

I squeezed my eyes closed tighter than they already were. For forty-five minutes I’d been “trying,” and that was about forty-four minutes too long to stay in a room with Bran Ramsey.

C’mon, Ari. Concentrate!

If I could figure out how to control my power and use it at will, even just a tiny bit, my training session would be done for the day and I could rejoin the nontortured students at Presby.

Bran’s calloused hand clamped around my throat. My eyes flew open. What the hell? He squeezed hard, his fingers encircling my neck almost completely. I struggled, questioning him with my look, unable to do anything more than make small wheezing noises.

“You’re not trying,” he growled deeply, stepping on my toes. “You’re too scared to try. You even smell scared. You make me sick, Selkirk.”

He wasn’t letting go.

Pressure built behind my eyes and in my face. My lungs strained. I pulled at his hand. I slapped. I kicked. I punched at his arms and chest, unable to reach his head. But it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. Going up against Bran was like trying to beat up an oak tree.

My chest burned. Couldn’t . . . breathe . . .

Bran leaned close, his nose almost touching mine, the brown in his eyes going darker and meaner. “What are you going to do now, god-killer?”

White fuzz began to ring my vision. My arms went limp. He released me with a shove. I stumbled back in disbelief, gasping for air. I braced my hands on my knees, concentrating on each painful breath—in and out, in and out—until the dizziness ebbed and I was able to straighten.

An open-handed smack landed on the back of my head. I ducked, my arms going protectively over my head. “Stop it! Jesus! Are you insane?!”

“Fight me.”

He moved too quickly for me to defend myself. A boot to the back of my knee sent me crumbling to the floor. My hands slapped hard against the mat. This was really starting to get old. “Stop it, Bran. I’m done, okay?”

I’d been trained as a bail bondsman by my last foster parents, Bruce and Casey, but nothing had prepared me for this. This was . . . different. This was removed, cold, and impatient. This didn’t inspire confidence, and so far it hadn’t taught me a damn thing at all. This was simply an exercise to show me what it felt like to be a mouse to Bran’s maniacal cat.

I was almost too afraid to get up, knowing he wasn’t finished with me. I lifted my head, swiped the sweat from my brow with my arm, and glanced at the clock. Five more minutes until the bell rang.

Five more minutes. I chanted those three words over and over as I straightened and faced him.

Bran stood in the center of the room, feet braced apart, thick arms folded over his chest, one dark eyebrow cocked up. There was no sheen of sweat on his tanned face. No dampness to his wavy sable brown hair.

“I thought you were supposed to teach me, not try to kill me,” I forced out through my sore throat.

“Semantics.” He flicked a glance at the clock and smirked, telling me with a look exactly how much damage he could do in the next four minutes.

“I’m done, okay?” I said tiredly. “Can we just . . . stop?”

“Stop what?”

I rolled my eyes, letting my frustrations flow into my words. “Uh, gee, I don’t know. Stop baiting me, stop pushing me, stop hitting me, stop being a supreme asshole.” There, I said it. And it felt good. Damn good. It wasn’t like he was going to take it easy on me anyway.

A lethal grin pulled his lips apart. “Make me.”

The gleam in his dark eyes—it was like he was dying for someone to finally give him some decent action. And that someone, he had decided, was me. It didn’t matter that I was a student and he was a demigod/security specialist/one of the nine Novem heads. Semantics, right?

I stepped forward, knowing I could probably draw this out until the bell rang. I was, if nothing else, experienced in the art of toughing it out. There were ways a body could turn and move so that the blows wouldn’t hurt so much. I took up a defensive position.

Bran’s hand shot out. “No. Make me . . . with your mind.”

His words sank in and I snorted, arching one eyebrow to match his cocky expression. “I don’t exactly see you using yours.”

He moved in a blur, so fast I didn’t have time to tense before he had me spun around and shoved front-first against the far wall, one arm twisted behind my back and the side of my face squished into the oak paneling.

Shock stole my breath, but only for a second before the anger rushed in, forcing away my surprise and pushing my blood pressure higher. The clock was ticking. Tough it out.

Then he breathed purposefully on my neck and chuckled, dropping his voice to a husky tone. “I suppose we could try another sort of tactic. . . .”

He was too close. Too pressed up against me. Too in my space. I was trapped. Completely trapped. Oh God. A sick wave rolled over my stomach.

I felt it then, uncoiling, waking, and my fear turned to panic. I mumbled words like a prayer: “No, no, no.”

Bran laughed softly. “Yes.”

My curse stirred, rising like smoke from my toes to my scalp, swirling, twisting, pushing painfully into places never meant to be filled. Every nerve shivered, every fine hair stood up, every ounce of flesh crawled as though a swarm of bugs scattered along my skin.

My body went stiff, bracing against the inevitable rise of power until I couldn’t bear the sensations anymore. Goddamn you, Bran!

It rushed the rest of the way in. Energetic. Alive. Aware. My curse, the gorgon, was a living shadow inside me.

I screamed and twisted from Bran’s hold, vaguely acknowledging that he let me, and grabbed his neck. His eyes were hard, daring. Our gazes locked as a tingling sensation shot down my arm and into my hand. It was cold, heartless, vicious. . . . Movement, like the softest breeze, began beneath my scalp. Slither—No, no, no.

I screamed again, against the horror, finally finding enough strength to shove Bran back.

Then it was over.

My curse retreated, leaving me slumped against the wall, my eyes wide and glassy, heart beating so fast I thought it might burst.

Bran stood very still. His neck and the skin over his jawbone were white—unnaturally white—marble. Me. I’d done that. His dark eyes bored into mine, intense, but somehow calm and confident. His skin color slowly returned, and his shoulders relaxed.

“And that, Ari Selkirk,” he said smugly, rubbing his jaw, “is called trying.”

He strolled to the far corner to take a swig of water from his bottle. Still stunned by what I’d done, I watched his throat work as he drank deeply. I knew what I could do, had felt the same sensations before, but it was still a shock to the system; it wasn’t something I’d ever get used to. And I didn’t want to.

Bran set the bottle down, swiped a hand over his mouth, then leaned casually against the table in the corner to study me. “Now that we know your power stirs from fear and adrenaline, we have something to work with. Don’t make me push you that far again. It’s . . . distasteful. Soon you’ll be able to control it without giving in to those unnecessary emotions. But”—he shrugged—“I suppose it’s a decent enough start for your first day of training.”

The bell rang.

And I just stood there staring at him, amazed by how he could sound so blasé after all that.

“We’ll work again tomorrow.” He nodded to the door. “Now get lost.”

I headed for my backpack on the floor by the door, my legs so weak I was surprised they even worked. My hand trembled as I grabbed the strap to my bag, slung it over my shoulder, and left the room the other students at Presby had dubbed The Dungeon.

© 2012 Kelly Keaton

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Meet the Author

Kelly Keaton is the critically acclaimed author of Darkness Becomes Her. As Kelly Gay, she writes the popular adult series, Charlie Madigan, for Pocket Books. While she calls Raleigh, North Carolina, home, she can also be found chatting about books and life on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about Kelly on her website at KellyKeaton.net.

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