Beautiful Redemption - Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

It’s been months since Ethan took the plunge to correct the Order of Things and save his friends and loved ones from an impending apocalypse. He wakes up in the “Otherworld” where he has breakfast with his mother and can visit with Aunt Prue whenever he likes. However, he can’t shake the feeling that he is not supposed to be in the “Otherworld,” and he misses Lena terribly. He will do anything to find his way home again, and Lena will do anything to make that happen. They reach across the barriers in an attempt to bring him back to the world of the living.

This final entry in the Caster Chronicles series is mostly based around Ethan’s adventures in the “Otherworld,” and despite how interesting that sounds, the book falls into competition with Book Two as being the weakest in the series. I just couldn’t get behind his quest. Maybe it’s because I’ve been away from the series for too long, but I don’t find Ethan’s romance with Lena as engaging as I once did. I felt he disregarded his mother’s feelings when he decided he needed to go back to Lena – and it was all about Lena – not his father who has been living under a spell so he doesn’t realize Ethan has died, not even Amma who has raised him and saved him from trouble countless times. He does eventually admit that he is torn about leaving his mother and that he does want to be with his father and Amma again, but for the most part Lena is all he sees and all he thinks about.

Lena, back in the mortal world, isn’t much better. As Ethan communicates to her through the barrier between worlds, she becomes consumed in aiding his quest to come home. She is willing to trade John to Abraham in order to get her hands on an object Ethan needs. She also freaks out on Macon for “spying on her” and on John for leaving Liv a note about what he was about to do (give himself to Abraham in trade), when it ended up saving her butt in the end. Abraham would have killed her had Macon not shown up when he had, yet she pouts and whines when she should be thankful. Really, Lena, if you want your uncle to take you seriously, you need to stop acting like such a child and use some common sense!

Truthfully, I was more entertained by the romances between Link and Ridley and Liv and John. Liv and John are just adorable together, and probably the most normal couple out of the three in their group. Even though he is half caster/half incubus, he genuinely cares about her and would do anything to make her happy. Then there’s the volatile love/hate relationship that is Ridley and Link – who communicate in a series of half-hearted insults and can’t seem to get over each other. It also helped their relationship that Link proved himself to be quite the hero during the showdown with Abraham – taking him on mortal style and winning.

Two interesting characters were introduced in this entry – Obidias and Xavier. Both men had angered the Far Keep and had been severely punished – Obidias given snakes for a hand that routinely bite into his flesh, and Xavier turned into a monster and forced to guard the gates of the Great Keep. Both men greatly aid Ethan on his journey – Obidias telling him what he has to do to get home and Xavier aiding him in the final battle. I really liked Xavier and I was glad that I got to see a flashback into his life and how he became the way he did. I wish I could have learned more about Obidias – but he is only in the novel for one chapter.

The one character that was just plain irritating to me was Angelus – one of the Keepers. He is evil, yes, but he’s also whiney and prideful – hateful of the very race he sprung from. He is, after all, a mortal, yet he refuses to believe that is so when he has modified himself so much he no longer resembles one. Despite his evil experimentations and his enslavement of dark casters for his own amusement, he still comes off more pathetic than villainous in his final confrontation with Ethan. I, for one, couldn’t wait for his character to be killed off, because he was more annoying than anything. Abraham Ravenwood was a legitimate villain; this guy was a prideful weakling riding on Abraham’s coattails.

I didn’t feel any real suspense. I knew that Ethan was most likely going to return to Lena, but I also didn’t really care that much if he did. I wanted to spend more time with his mother and get to know her character, as she has played a very pivotal role in the series despite being dead. It was also nice to finally meet the Greats that Amma always communicates with, but they also only get a chapter where they help Ethan and send him on his way – I still never really got to know any of them and I would have liked to. They have also served a large role in the series, and I felt they could have been given a little more face time.

The story in this one didn’t pull me in like the rest did. There was a cool new world to explore, but it wasn’t really plotted out very well – unlike the numerous tunnels in Books Two and Three. It is all about Ethan and Lena, and getting them back together again. Beyond that, nothing seems to matter, and that made it rather mundane to me. So much more could have been explored in dealing with the afterlife, yet so little was done, and I found myself rather bored and wishing the plot would just move along already. Characters with promise are underused, Ethan and Lena are both rather whiney and ungrateful, and the main villain is just irritating. I was hoping for a better finale.