Author: Bree Despain
Publisher: Egmont USA
Series: The Dark Divine #1
Release Date: December 22, 2009
How Received: Library
Summary:A Prodigal SonA Dangerous LoveA Deadly Secret
Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.
Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.
As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about the mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.
At first, I didn’t expect to like this book. The reason is simple: religion plays a huge part in the life of the Divines. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not slandering religion, being religious myself. But when you find religion in literature, it’s usually displayed with substantial amounts of distasteful bigotry and has made me come to dislike any books with religious portrayals. After a while into this book, though, I realized that while religion played a big part in the familial dynamics of the Divines, the book wasn’t preachy or stubborn. Grace, the main character, does some things that go against the way of her religion, and she struggles with her decisions. Her father, who is a pastor, is okay with new ideas being brought to him and tries to help anyone in need, regardless of what they do. This is the first book in a while where I could stomach the religion, so that was a plus for me.
After I got over my forthcomings about religion, the book got a lot better. I was driven to read it so quickly because I needed to know Daniel’s secret and what happened between him and Jude, Grace’s brother. The inquisitive stage of the book takes up the entire novel – from the very first page to the last. What was going on? What is Daniel? What’s going to happen now? Those are the questions I most wondered about as I read. The plot itself isn’t that exciting: you could pretty much guess Daniel’s secrets from the get-go. But there were plot twists! Not exactly dealing with Daniel himself but... let’s just say the “antagonist” is someone you would never expect. I for sure didn’t! I totally fell for the red herring Despain threw at me. I accused that guy from the very beginning. So un-predictability? Pretty good in some parts, but pretty predictable in others.
The characters were believable. I really enjoyed Grace as a protagonist. She still held firm with her beliefs, but she was willing to experiment and try new things – all in the favor of helping someone who she wasn’t allowed to see. I’m glad her love – for Daniel and her brother – ran as deep as it did. Daniel was also an enjoyable character: he was mysterious, cynical, and a general bad boy, but he was always so sweet and gentle to Grace when they were alone. I couldn’t help but love him, even as I questioned everything about him.
I also enjoyed that Grace’s parents were somewhat around. They – especially her father – played active roles in the book, and I enjoyed reading Grace’s interactions with them (even though she didn’t get along well with her mom, which is understandable with any teenage girl).
I thought it was pure genius that nearly everyone we’re introduced to has a unique role. Literally. Even characters we only meet for a sentence or so get a somewhat significant role in the book – from Don, to a girl with green hair, to the mysterious Gabriel. Everything interweaved amongst themselves really nicely, and I have to applaud Bree for writing her story the way she did.
And lastly, the name meanings in this book were interesting. All of the Divine’s were given names that reflected God in some way. Daniel’s name means “God is my judge” (which makes perfect sense). Jude’s name is a bit ironic, depending on the root meaning of the name (it means praise, admired, or thanks, but also to acknowledge and confess man’s character) – and Jude is also a brother of James (baby James). I absolutely adore authors who take careful consideration into name meanings and incorporating that into their novels.
Cover Thoughts: At first, I thought it was pretty. Then I got up close to the novel and didn’t like it so much. This is just me, personally, but I can’t stand toenails. If you’re going to try to have a pretty cover, pick pretty toenails. And look at the model’s feet. Those are 25-year-old feet, not 16-year-old feet. And for a religious novel, it’s pretty racy. But maybe that was done on purpose, to show that Grace does go out of line sometimes. But ugh, the toenails. Cute idea for the purple nailpolish (it’s mentioned in the story) but... just ugh.
“Grace Divine.” He snorted. “Your parents must have some God complex. I bet your dad is a minister.”“Pastor. But that’s none of your business.” (pg. 5)
The problem with promises is that once you’ve made one, it’s bound to be broken. It’s like an unspoken cosmic rule. (pg. 18)
I was used to people talking about me. Watching me. It was just part of being a Divine. Mom always said I had to be careful about the clothes I wore, how late I stayed out, or what movies I was seen going into, because people would set their own behavior by what the pastor’s kids were allowed to do—like I was some kind of walking morality barometer. (pg. 85)
He brushed the stone pendant that lingered between his defined pecs. I couldn’t help noticing the way his long, lean muscles and untamed hair made him look like a wild, powerful animal. For one small second, I wished he had pounced on me. (pg. 229
Daniel turned his head away. “What about your brother?”
“I don’t want to kiss him,” I said, and pecked my lips along Daniel’s jaw.
“He’s here, you know.” Daniel swallowed air. “I can taste him.”
“Okay, let’s put that on our ‘Top Ten Things Not to Say While Making Out’ list.” (pg. 309)
What were the odds that two werewolves had the hots for me? Like I was some gigantic monster magnet. Was there a sign on my back that said, BITE ME, I’M AVAILABLE?! (pg. 322)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I started out disliking this novel because of the religion. But a little while into it, I was completely hooked. The Dark Divine handed us a total good vs. evil cliché, but it’s served well-done. The characters were believable and it was fun rooting for Daniel (I’m still rooting for Daniel, seeing as a new love interest is being introduced in the Lost Saint – or so I think? Maybe? Not sure) and seeing how far Grace would go for love.