A Beautiful Dark is the debut novel of Jocelyn Davies. She’s an editor of young adult fiction and decided to take the plunge into the genre herself. We all know the old saying: don’t judge a book by its cover, but the cover of this novel is truly eye-catching. It’s an enigma. Who is this girl? The background is dark and stormy; the title is evocative of an intriguing mystery. It begs for one to crack the spine and explore.
Skye, the protagonist, age seventeen is living a normal life—sort of. She’s the unrequited crush of a young man that works at the coffee shack, she’s trying to negotiate school and friends and come to terms with the loss of her parents, killed in an accident. Having Mom’s best friend as her guardian is great, but it can’t remove the pain that is always brewing beneath the surface.
Missing parents are a common device in YA fiction to allow for situations that would be a lot more difficult if not impossible if adults were present—at least if you want a credible story or the writer is utilizing irresponsible parents as a plot device. That’s not the case here. The missing parents are an integral part of the mystery. They’re part of a delicious little twist that is essentially only hinted at. I’m hoping to see it explored more thoroughly as the story continues in the next installment.
Jocelyn Davies does a nice job of worldbuilding. It was easy to fall into that world and visualize that cold, ski-town in Colorado, the crunchy ice and the hot, steaming coffee that await the teens who meet up at the intimate shack. When two hot boys who are diametrically opposed to each other, appear in Skye’s life, things begin heat up—and it has nothing to do with that coffee!
Skye finds herself jockeying between these two strange boys. Who are they and what do they want? They’re on a mission. Each is familiar with the other and it is clear they despise each other. Skye struggles to understand how she factors into their apparent feud. The author is to be commended for giving Devin and Asher very unique and distinctive personalities. They both had their strengths and flaws and it isn’t clear who the bad guy is or who to root for. Their emotions had depth. The attraction and repulsion they had in their connection to Skye was nicely nuanced.
The ending is a total shock and a huge cliffhanger. This is no stand-alone novel. One must read the next book in the series to get to the bottom of things and I look forward to digging in and finding out!
A Beautiful Dark releases September 27, 2011 by Harper Teen