Review: The Beautiful and the Damned - Jessica Verday

Release Date: October 1st 2013
Published By: Simon Pulse
Pages: 272
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4 out of 5


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

Review: There were a few reasons why I was looking forward to this book; I like and respect Jessica Verday as a person/author; This is a spin-off of the ‘The Hollow’ series, which I really enjoyed; and Cyn was a character that I really liked in ‘The Hollow’, however we did not get to see a lot of her, so I was really happy that she was getting her own book.

The story was entertaining and well developed. Although this is a spin-off, I feel that Jessica Verday includes enough of the backstory to avoid any confusion for new readers. However, for those who have read the original series, you will see that Jessica has intricately woven characters and events from Sleepy Hollow into The Beautiful and the Damned. Some of these woven aspects are very subtle, and it was masterfully constructed. Cyn certainly brought some spice to Sleepy Hollow, and she continues to do this in this enjoyable spin-off, which is in a lot of ways, is darker and more intense than ‘The Hollow’. The Beautiful and the Damned incorporates new aspects to this paranormal world, such as vampires and hellhounds, but you also still get to enjoy the revenants and shades aspect of the original series.

Cyn, has left Sleepy Hollow, actually she ran from Sleepy Hollow, but she cannot seem to be able to run from herself. Although Cyn has dealt with the fact that all her life she can see another person’s face when she looks in the mirror, lately she has been experiencing terrifying blackouts where she wakes up with no recollection on what happened during this timeframe - even when she wakes up to find herself covered in blood. These blackouts are happening more frequently, and she is constantly haunted by her past actions during these episodes. Scared for herself, and of herself, Cyn feels like she cannot allow herself to be trusted, but tries to find comfort from Father Montgomery - and it is through him that she meets the gruff and scary Avian.

Avian, or Thirteen as he is known as, is a very complex character. He is angry, extremely guarded, hardened and clearly dangerous. But yet, you see his softer sider when it comes to Father Montgomery. You also see hints that he has been hurt in the past, and as a result, he only trusts himself and the Father. I found their relationship very charming, and it was clear that the Father had a lot of influence over the type of person Avian turned out to be - although extremely dangerous, he has chosen the path of lesser evil. Although when he lets out his inner demon he can kick-ass, he has chosen to do so only when he believes it is deserved and justified. Avian is a very strong, loyal and determined character, but can also be very sweet when he wants to be - and although there are not a lot of these moments, when they do occur, they are powerful.

Avian also knows a lot more than he is letting on. The moment he meets Cyn, he knows that she is an Echo, a human who is used as channel for the souls of the dead. Because of this, Avian instantly dislikes Cyn because of what she is, as he has his own past with Echos, but Cyn somehow gets under his skin, and he realises that she may be an innocent bystander of her own ability. There is only one chance for Cyn to stop the soul that is tormenting Cyn from within her own body - and to do so she must return to the one place that she did not want to go to - Sleepy Hollow. But, will returning to face her past be even more terrifying than the thought of not surviving the ritual to save her from the soul within her?

While Cyn is trying to understand what is happening to her and struggles with the possibilities of what she has done during her blackouts, she is also being stalked by another man who has a connection to Sleepy Hollow, but more importantly to a heartbreaking and terrifying event that haunts Cyn with her every breath.

Although Cyn is scared of herself, the monster within, her past, and her stalker, she does not act like a victim. She is still a strong character, she still fights for herself and she certainly doesn’t act like a damsel in distress. She also doesn’t fall head over heels in love with the bad-boy she has just met. In fact, they both resist their attraction to each other, as they both struggle with their past, and what they are. This creates a good amount of tension between these characters, and it takes time (and an awful event) for these two to start to like and trust each other.

There is plenty of suspense to keep this story moving along at a great pace, and like I said earlier, I really enjoyed the fact that so much is linked between this story and the original series. There was one thing that happened at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming (I can’t really say what it is as it is one of the twists), but I did like how Cyn handled the situation.

This is an intense and dark story filled with secrets and surprises, and I really enjoyed being back in the world created by Jessica Verday. Although there is no word on a sequel yet, this book has been left open for another book, so hopefully that will eventuate, as I would love to see where the story takes Cyn and Avian.

What do you think?

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