Em: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – REVIEW

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Release Date: December 9th, 2009
Little, Brown and Company, 563 Pages
Sub-genre: Paranormal
Source: Bought in Hardback
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Caster Chronicles #1

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.

I first saw this book about a week ago in an indie bookstore at the beach while I was on vacation. I had remembered that it was on my list of books to read. I was immediately pulled into the story. The authors did a fine job creating a dark, mysterious, and suspenseful plot. This is really a book where I felt like I was learning about all of the Caster language and history along with the main character, Ethan.

As a native of a small Southern town, I can appreciate the setting a great deal. The gossip, prejudice, and hateful ignorance is something that is far too familiar to me. With that being said, I absolutely loved that this is a Southern Gothic novel. The characters remind me so much of what I grew up around that I chuckled out-loud quite a few times at the blue-haired women & the other catty bitties of the DAR that thought they ran the town. The language that was used to portray the characters gave the book a zillion extra brownie points for me.

The characters are so fantastic. Amma is so sassy that I can see why Ethan loves her so much…and his parents, even though his mother is essentially a non-existent character and his father might as well be too, lend some serious smarts to the other dimwits in the town. I really loved that Duke University was referenced a lot. I am actually applying there for my Ph.D. and have had dozens of family members, including my grandmother, that are alumni. And let me tell you…Ethan Wate…now that is a strong character that I really enjoyed cheering for throughout the story. His love for Lena & their ominous relationship were what kept me so enthralled with the plot. There wasn’t a single moment that I wasn’t rooting for them. The way the story is written, you can’t help but want everything to be perfect for both of them. Macon Ravenwood was also a character that I actually came to really, really love. He was a tad overprotective at times, but he never, ever forgot what was important to him…Lena. Amma & Macon are definitely a force to be reckoned with alone, but even more so as a team.

The history and background the Garcia & Stohl provide for the South & the Wate, Ravenwood, & Duchannes families are essential to understanding what is going on and what is bound to happen. I am the opposite of a history buff. It is usually a subject I try to avoid at all costs, but having that background information was the backbone to the whole story.

I really appreciated the use of foreshadowing by using the songs and other subtle cues because I kept thinking about what was going to happen next, even when I put the book down. It was dark but thrilling ride with Ethan & Lena and the rest of the Mortals & Casters…I can’t wait to finish Beautiful Darkness to see what happens next. Beautiful Chaos (the 3rd book in the series) is expected to be published October 18th, 2011. The fourth book is still untitled as far as I know, but there also seems to be another story called Dream Dark: A Beautiful Creatures Story (Caster Chronicles 2.5) that is scheduled to be released in early August. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here (I’m currently half-way through the 2nd book)…but, from what I have read, I know that Garcia & Stohl will not disappoint.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that has grown weary of the usual paranormal creatures and are in the mood for a Southern Gothic with a “witchy” twist.

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