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review: “the dark divine” March 15, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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The Dark Divine by Bree Despain.
Egmont // ARC // 384 pages.
Reviewed from ARC copy provided by publisher.

Three years after Grace Divine lost her best friend, Daniel Grigori, he’s finally returned to her high school. But Grace still doesn’t know what caused Daniel’s mysterious disappearance — only that it happened the same night Grace found her brother, Jude, on the porch covered in blood. Whatever secret Daniel is hiding, Grace finds herself drawn to him despite Jude’s obvious hatred for him. To make matters worse, the whole community is watching Grace’s family after one of her father’s parishioners passes away. With all the odds stacked against her, can Grace finally uncover the past?

Despain writes a strong debut novel that I really enjoyed. I finished the book in one fell swoop, and will definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out. I immediately had teens in mind to sell it to at the library and eagerly passed on my ARC. Reviews from teens have been quite favorable — one girl begged for it for book club already. (We have to wait for paperbacks though, so not for a while!)

I really enjoyed the strong family life that Despain created in the novel. The complexities of faith, forgiveness, and guilt are explored throughout the novel without becoming overly preachy. And the siblings’ dynamics really intrigued me — Jude appears to be a fairly simplistic character as first and his character development surprised and please me.

The supernatural elements were well-done. I did not expect the twist that happens at the end of the book! YIKES. It left me reeling and desperately wanting the sequel.

And as for Daniel and Grace — it was so nice that they had a background prior to madly falling in love. Just knowing that they had been childhood friends made it that much more wonderful when they did fall for one another once he returned. (Also, that much more realistic and believable!)

Couple of weak moments of characterization. Grace’s friends basically disappear once the love interest is introduced, small flaws that will be improved with time and more writing experience.

Definitely one of the better paranormals I’ve read in a while. I look forward to whatever Despain writes next.

(Also! If you’ve read a published copy, can you enlighten me about the added scenes that tied in the cover, if you remember? Email readwhatyouknow[at]gmail[dot]com or leave it in the comments!)

SWAN catalog
Bree Despain




1. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - March 16, 2010

I keep changing my mind about this one. First I read some awesome stuff about it, then some mixed reviews, and now your review which is definitely making me want to read it. From your description I’m loving the sound of it, especially the way the relationship is portrayed.

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