A Beautiful Dark

Release Date: 
September 26, 2011
Reviewed by: 

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 17, is living a normal life—sort of. She’s the unrequited crush of a young man who works at the coffee shack. She’s also 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 only hinted at. It would be marvelous if it were explored more thoroughly as the story continues in the next installment.

Jocelyn Davies does a nice job of worldbuilding. It is easy to fall into that world and visualize that cold ski town in Colorado, the crunchy ice, and the hot, steaming coffee that awaits the teens who meet up at an 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 have their strengths and flaws, and it isn’t clear who the bad guy is or whom to root for. Their emotions have depth. The attraction and repulsion they have in their connection to Skye is nicely nuanced.

The ending is a total shock—and a blatantly big cliffhanger. This is no standalone novel. One must read the next book in the series to get any idea of what happens next—and this reader is looking forward to digging in!