Reading the last book in a beloved series is a bittersweet moment. The final volume of The Caster Chronicles, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Redemption, is the book that I’ve been waiting for all year. The Caster Chronicles and I have a history; each book arrives with an understanding that I’ll be up reading until it’s finished. It's a conversation with friends that lasts far longer into the night than you intended, but you can't bring yourself to leave. Beautiful Redemption is the last meeting of old friends, so each word—each time it makes me smile or brings up a memory of what we’ve been through together—means all that much more.
How late was I up? Well, I was fortunate enough to receive a publicity copy early from Hachette Book Group Canada. As I had been rereading the previous three books (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, and Beautiful Chaos), when I finished my reread I started Beautiful Redemption. It was 11:00 pm on a Saturday night, and I thought I’d read a chapter or two. Uh yeah, that didn’t happen. I stayed up until 4:30 AM on Sunday morning because I didn’t want to let it go.
After I got a good sleep Sunday night, I started rereading Beautiful Redemption. This time I read it slow and savoured each chapter. Beautiful Redemption is the best of the series—my favourite by far. (That had previously been Beautiful Darkness.) This is a fair ending, a real ending, and it finishes the story that the series set out to tell.
While it's true The Caster Chronicles is the love story of Ethan Lawson Wate and Lena Duchannes, it’s always been so much more than that to me. These books are about being Claimed—by your family, your friends, your town, and yourself. I’m so pleased with the way these characters have grown together through all of the trials they’ve faced and adventures they’ve had.
One of the best parts about Beautiful Redemption is how it allows us to get inside Lena’s head, so we get to see what she thinks of characters we’ve come to know via Ethan. One of my favourite scenes is Lena and Link driving in the Beater when she makes all the lights turn green for him. It’s a tiny little detail, but it tells you so much about how well she knows him.
But what I love most about this book is Ethan and his journey. This entire series has been about finding one’s place, and Ethan Lawson Wate undoubtedly finds his. It’s not an easy task—after Beautiful Chaos it’s a rather difficult one—but to quote Amma: “The easy thing and the right thing are seldom the same.”
This sentiment has been the perfectly-formed crust of the narrative; in Beautiful Redemption, it is matched with a line from Macon Ravenwood that completes its blue-ribbon winning pie: “These things are difficulties, not impossibilities.” Ethan and Lena have faced difficulty after difficulty, but they come to understand it’s not impossible to do what needs doing—and you don't have to do it alone. Anytime your friends realize that, it's a proud moment. (Whether they're imaginary or not.)
If you’ve not read these books, you must give them a try. They are a whole lot of very true things wrapped up in fun and romance and magic hidden in plain sight. While I am sad to say goodbye to them, I know we'll see each other again in February for the movie. I can't wait.