Grace Divine has a nice stable life. She’s the daughter of the local Protestant pastor, her parents are supportive and loving, and she adores her big brother Jude. She’s got a great best friend and she loves studying art at her high school.
Everything is going well until Daniel, Grace’s childhood friend and first crush, moves back to town. Last time she saw him, three years ago, he’d had a fight with Jude, who was his best friend. Jude was badly hurt when Grace found him covered in blood in the front yard. Now Daniel is a different person, no longer the boy she knew, and she can tell there’s something badly wrong. Where has Daniel been? Why did he leave? Why is he back? Jude tells Grace to stay away from Daniel, but Grace just wants to help him.
I don’t read many YA paranormal romances; they’re just not my thing because they focus on teenage relationships — something I’m glad to be done with. So, I’ll admit right off that I only read Bree Despain’s The Dark Divine because I had a free copy of the audiobook, we needed a review for this website, and the plot sounded different enough from the others I’ve read that I thought I might like this one. I read Brilliance Audio’s version which was narrated by Eileen Stevens, who did a nice job.
I did find some of the elements of The Dark Divine to be refreshing. Grace is a good girl with a great family life. She’s just a normal high school kid who loves her family and wants to do the right thing. Her Christian faith is an important part of her life and she’s happy and mentally stable. Her life is so good that when bad things start to happen, she has a hard time understanding the sudden changes in her circumstances and begins to exclaim, “That’s not fair!” Once Grace finds out what’s really going on, her entire worldview must shift. She takes it in to easily, though, instead of reacting with the shock that we’d expect.
Though Grace’s situation is a little different than most of her fellow YA protagonists’, this wasn’t enough to set The Dark Divine apart from the rest of its class. Most of the familiar elements are here: the naïve high school girl, the bad boy she can’t resist who’s really a supernatural being, a love triangle, the strange things going on around town, a secret journal, a charmed necklace, the paranormal societies that only a few people know about. It’s all been done so many times before and, frankly, I just thought it was dull. There’s little imaginative world-building and no cool magic. There’s nothing to set The Dark Divine apart.
Though the faith and redemption theme is intriguing, I was mostly bored by The Dark Divine, so I’m not going to find out where Bree Despain is going with it. Mostly this series seems like just another angsty teenage paranormal romance.