Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: December 1st, 2009
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
A thrilling gothic about the supernatural secrets of the south, Beautiful Creatures is a gripping story that captivated me from start to finish. Told in a lush, descriptive manner from a teenage male's perspective, it transports readers to lazy South Carolina, where dark secrets are lurking beneath the laid-back, small-town surface.
Beautiful Creatures follows Ethan, a high school student with, aside from his dead mother and practically absent father, a normal life. He does okay in school, he's on the basketball team, he has a loyal best friend, and a loving, protective Amma to compensate for his father's erratic behavior. Then one day, he meets the shy, eccentric Lena Duchannes, and his world slowly begins spinning out of orbit. As he gets to know Lena, he sees how different from the rest of the girls, she is. But just how special is Lena? And what if some of the secrets she's keeping hidden are dangerous?
Tantalizing and thrilling in every right, Beautiful Creatures grabbed me by the hand and made me jump into the atmospheric Gatlin. The mysteries surrounding the town, the history of the ancestors of the main characters... It's all amazing. The story takes place in present-time, but it spans over a hundred years in history, and readers get to experience it all because of the descriptive writing. The book is a little lengthy, but it's a small price to pay for the stunning imagery and riveting plot.
I also love the characters. Ethan's a great protagonist, and I loved seeing the story unfold from his perspective, and I love Lena and her little eccentricities, but I loved the secondary characters just as much. Link's unwavering loyalty and friendship to Ethan touched me, and I really enjoyed Lena's crazy family as well. A brilliant ensemble of characters this book has.
The paranormal aspect of this novel is great. The concept of Casters is original, and the history that goes along with it is clear yet still mysterious... Like readers understand the basics, but there's a lot more to find out about it, so it whets their appetites and increases the interest in the sequel. I loved the romance, too. Ethan and Lena's relationship is subtle, but it made a sizable impact on me just the same. It didn't blow me away the way whirlwind romances usually do, but that's exactly what I loved about it. It's subdued. It's there, and it's sweet, but it's not a scene-stealer, and that made it all the more special to me.
With its engaging plot and characters, Beautiful Creatures is a great start to a promising series. The story comes to a satisfying albeit mysterious conclusion, and I cannot wait to get my hands on Beautiful Darkness and devour it just like I did this one, so I can once again jump into the world where the normal and the paranormal coexist, otherwise known as Gatlin.