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Title: “The Beautiful and the Damned (The Hollows #4)”
Author: Jessica Verday
Genre: YA Contemporary, PNR, Paranormal
Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (Simon Pulse – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Synopsis: Cyn’s blackouts have deadly consequences in this sexy, suspenseful spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Hollow series.Cyn and Avian are far from a perfect match. She’s a witch who casts spells on men so she can steal their cars. He spends his time being judge, jury, and executioner to the truly evil in the supernatural realm.
When the blackouts Cyn’s been having ever since her time in Sleepy Hollow start escalating, she finds herself unable to remember where she’s been or what she’s been doing. Frightened, she seeks guidance at a local church, and it’s there she meets Avian.
The unlikely pair soon discovers that her blackouts are a side effect of what she truly is—an Echo—a conduit for souls of the dead. The only way to prevent Cyn from losing complete control is to return to Sleepy Hollow and vanquish the source of her power—but she may not survive the process. And if she does? She won’t ever be the same…
☆: 3.5/5 stars – A good standalone, but may lose people who haven’t read the original trilogy.
Review: Fair disclosure – I haven’t read the original “Hollow” trilogy, to which this book is a companion. But even so, “The Beautiful and the Damned” is a tightly-written, nice, short, companion book which gives the audience a small taste of the original “Hollow” world while creating an entirely new world with elements that were introduced or hinted at in the original text. Even if you haven’t read the original trilogy, if you’re looking for a read to devour in a short amount of time, I recommend “The Beautiful and the Damned”. Even if you may get a bit confused.
For a companion, I did feel like that this book relied a bit too much on the original trilogy as it made quite a few references that confused me (at least, until we’re given a cliffs’ notes version of what happened in that trilogy near the end of the book). At times, it felt like Verday couldn’t quite decide whether to write a standalone that was loosely linked to the original trilogy, or if she wanted to write something that borrowed more from the world from the trilogy into a standalone. That was a bit frustrating, I’ll admit, but I think fans of the original series will love how deeply this book becomes integrated into the “Hollow” world as a whole. For me, it felt like a bit of a hindrance, since this is supposed to be a whole new story with minor characters from the trilogy.
That being said, this book is definitely plot-driven, and I wish Verday had lengthened it a bit more, and given us a bit more on the characters. Again, this is where I feel she leans a little too heavily on her original material – expecting us to know already what’s already happened within this story’s timeline, and who’s participated in said happenings. I wanted more than I got on Cyn and Thirteen and some of the other characters that seemed to be from the original trilogy a bit more, but what I got was sufficient to orient me just enough to understand what was going on. New characters were a good move, and honestly, could have used a few more while still using elements from that original world from the trilogy. The bad guy felt a little typical but the big reveal at the end of the book definitely made up for that.
But for such a short read, the pacing is great, and I did love what little development we did get with Cyn and Thirteen. However, I do feel like their romance was not only sped-up, but did feel a taste like insta-love, even if they did fight quite a bit throughout the book after they met. What I also liked was how we got to see the original world making its entrance into this seemingly regular YA contemp with a twist – the Revenants, the vampires, and the hellhounds were all really great new looks at old myths/ideas/legends. The vampires, in particular, I thought were the best new twist – especially with the whole physical transformation thing. I think I might have nightmares about that for awhile.
Final verdict? While I could have used a little bit more original plot development and character development, “The Beautiful and the Damned” was a a fun read, and a great way to spend an afternoon. It actually makes me want to read the original trilogy, if just to be able to connect all of the dots. “The Beautiful and the Damned” is out October 1, 2013 by Simon & Schuster in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!