Book Four of The Secret Circle
Created by L.J. Smith
Written by Aubrey Clark
I wasn't surprised to see the huge controversy over the fact that this book wasn't actually written by L. J. Smith, the creator of the Secret Circle series, and writer of the first three Secret Circle books. In fact, that is why I chose not to read any of the reviews beforehand, deciding I'd allow the book to speak for itself, without any preconceived prejudice on my part, either for or against the ghost writer. That being said, I was incredibly impressed! I thought Aubrey Clark did an amazing job of keeping with both the style and the theme of the earlier books that had been written by L.J. Smith.
I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion, but I genuinely enjoyed this book. In fact, I actually think that Clarke did a better job of keeping with the original spirit and style of the earlier books than Smith herself did when she came back and wrote additional Vampire Diaries books several years after the original series ended. I thought that the newer Vampire Diaries books were ridiculously descriptive and the characters were predictable and stereotypical. I was barely able to force myself to read them. They were just so inherently different from the original books, which I adored. From my perspective, her writing had regressed, rather than improved.
Clark maintained just the right amount of tension between the characters. The theme of "The Circle vs. Outsiders" was very well played, as the Circle members allowed their fears to sway their judgements. Cassie, in particular, seemed to struggle as her own memories of being an outsider conflicted with the separatism ideals of the rest of the Circle. I felt like Clark really caught the essence of each of the many main characters, and got their voices just right.
I also had to give Clark points for managing to follow the path of the previous books, while still offering a few surprises as the story progressed that were unexpected, but were still in perfect character with the series as a whole. In fact, if I hadn't known it was written by a ghost writer and I'd just read the series one right after the other, I don't think I'd of suspected it. Since it's only been a few months since I read the other Secret Circle books I can honestly say that this book was a very believable continuation of the series.
I'm looking forward to the next book in the series and I'm sure that, if they allow Clark to write the next book, I won't be disappointed.