Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
I never even saw it coming.
Ethan Wate is haunted by nightmares of a beautiful girl who slips through his fingers every time -- but even in his wildest imaginings, he never thought his dream girl was real. Until she moved to town, that is. Lena Duchannes is the troubled niece of Gatlin's very own hermit, and as a result she's instantly shunned by the entire town. Except for Ethan. Ethan is determined to learn the truth about the centuries-old secret that bound his fate to Lena and her tangled family tree. Unfortunately, the path to answers ends in a single grave.
Beautiful Creatures is a haunting Gothic tale of secrets and blood bargains, set in a Southern town too small to contain it. The town of Gatlin is its own character in the story, an insular, small-minded community full of DAR debutantes and legendary shut-ins. Though it was rather over-the-top, this intense characterization provides a vivid backdrop for a timeless tale of star-crossed love. The creepy nightmares and eerie melodies that open the novel suck readers in, piquing their interest with a foreboding air.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with Ethan and Lena. Ethan prides himself on his dreams of leaving the boondocks, his college brochures and map of faraway places -- yet he never actually stands apart from the small town crowd until Lena comes along. Suddenly, Ethan is ready to cast off the clique into which he's been assimilated, risking it all for a girl he doesn't even know. Likewise, Lena was hard to get a handle on. Though she is the powerful one in this relationship, she still comes across as weak -- in need of her white knight to comfort her and chase the demons away. The two teens instantly fall in love, for no apparent reason. Though I expected a supernatural explanation at some point in the story, one never came.
Nonetheless, the secondary characters were a treat. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl give special attention to the creation of Gatlin's quirkier inhabitants. First, there's Amma, Ethan's voodoo psychic housekeeper and stand-in mother. Amma is an admirably strong woman who taught Ethan to stand up for what he believes in, a combination cookie-baking grandma and military general. Then there are the Sisters, Ethan's older-than-dirt, borderline insane aunts. They will keep readers laughing with their off-the-wall and lightning-fast banter, and strangely reminded me of the Fates. Finally, there's Macon Ravenwood, the town's resident recluse who is actually more Rhett Butler than Boo Radley. Macon is a mystery, cloaked in shadow and secrets. He is fierce in his family loyalty, as well as in his devotion to his niece Lena -- but you wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alleyway.
Beautiful Creatures is a dark and stormy (quite literally) tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end, as past and present collide in unnerving visions of doomed lovers more than a century before. This first installment only hints at the vast world of monsters and magic hidden beneath the human veneer of Gatlin. This is a world in which anything is possible, and Garcia and Stohl take that to the extreme -- weaving together ghosts and the gothic, curses and visions in a spell-binding tale readers will hate to see end.
Don't forget -- Beautiful Chaos, book 3 in the Caster Chronicles, hits shelves October 18th!
If you can't wait till October, check out the newly released Caster Chronicles novella Dream Dark and get a sneak peek!
Catch up with Ethan and Lena before you read Beautiful Chaos on October 18!
Thanks to Little Brown, one (1) lucky winner will receive copies of Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness!
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- Ends 8/24/11 at 11:59 pm EST
- One winner will be chosen via Random.org
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