Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl & Giveaway

Release Date: December 1, 2009
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!

To Enter:
  • Leave a thoughtful comment on this review (i.e., prove to me that you read it.)
  • +1 for sharing this giveaway (via Twitter, Facebook, etc -- must leave a direct link in your comment)
  • Following is not required, but greatly appreciated
  • US Only -- prize will be shipped from the publisher
  • Ends 8/24/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • One winner will be chosen via
  • Please review my giveaway policy

Good luck!


ashelynn hetland said...

I had the same thought about Ethan and Lena. I liked it, but it felt like the pace kept dragging. It took me two weeks to finish the first book. I will read the sequels, just not at the moment, ha.

I *loved* Amma and the insane, older than dirt aunts. I will agree that it does keep readers guessing until the very end.

Fantastic review!

Bonnie said...

I felt like it dragged myself, although I loved parts of it. I think that's why I haven't picked up the second one just yet, although it's on my list of books to read. I did like the secondary characters almost better than Ethan and Lena as well. Great review! Thanks!

Vivien said...

I really enjoyed the secondary characters as well. I'm actually excited for the novella that was just released since it's Link's story. I do think this series has promising parts to it.

+1 spread here
GFC follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

TheGirlOnFire said...

I have enjoyed this series so far, but I do agree with your review. I was very annoyed by them falling in love so quickly, and I also thought there would be more of an explanation in respect to the supernatural. I am still excited for the next one though!
+1 spread here

GFC follower

thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

brookea_2006 said...

I've been wanting to read this. It makes me a little sad to hear that the main characters are hard to connect with, but since I have a tendency to get attached to secondary characters, I'm glad to hear they are awesome at least.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Lieder Madchen said...

I love gothic novels and fun secondary characters, so I think I would enjoy this book. :) Thank you for the great review and giveaway!!/LiederMadchen/status/103010695599243264


The Lovely Getaway said...

Believe it or not, I had a very easy time connecting w/Ethan, Lena was the one that was harder for me to connect with. But overall I enjoyed the first book very much :) I haven't had time to go out for book 2, so this giveaway is perfecttt! Thanks so much for hosting!


Jan von Harz said...

I have had this one sitting on my TBR self for a while and hope to get to it soon. I have read lots of reviews and it sounds like a book I will truly enjoy as I tend towards dark and haunting.

mbreakfield said...

Great review! I enjoy a tale with a gothic feel and the aunts sound like my kind of characters. Too bad the main characters weren't as appealing as the secondary ones.

Tanya1224 said...

I've read reviews now where some connected and some have not with these characters. It's hard to get into a story if you don't get into and connect with the characters. Also about falling in love right away, where it was not led up to...that's hard to grasp. I'm reading a book now like that. I would still love a chance to read this book. Please count me in for the contest.
I'm an email subscriber .
+1 tweeted at!/Tanya1224/status/103182404813983744

Sniffly Kitty said...

Love at first sight with no reason seems to be such a common theme now which is too bad :(. I'm glad the secondary characters made up for it though!

hmweasley said...

I've heard so much about this series. It's definitely on my to-read list.

Lucia (iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books) said...

I've seen these books EVERYWHERE. And I haven't read them! Gah. Thank you so much for the giveaway!

Bella said...

I have been meaning to read this for ages. And I think that I disagree with your take on Ethan, even though I haven't read it. A person can harbor high aspirations and dreams of living a bigger life elsewhere INSIDE while they remain protected on the outside by assimilating into the cliched small town crowd. Lots of us dream big yet never get off the ground in real life.

Thank you for your review and this contest!

+1 tweeted:!/BellaMarie5/status/103243767666057216

email subscriber:
BellaMarie @ tampabay . rr . com

Kate said...

I just started reading Beautiful Creatures yesterday. I'm only a few chapters in so I don't think I have a real sense of the characters yet.

It's interesting to read a review that wasn't all good things. I've only ever heard great things about this series. I never got what this series was really about since the summery is so vauge, I think they didn't want to give anything away. I hope that I like it. But I hope you like the second book better, hopefully it gives all the answers. I can't stand series that keep you hanging for a couple books, without leaving you a little something. Great review! Now I'm interested to get reading and seeing what I think of all the characters and book in general. Thanks for the giveaway!

lollybees3 said...

I really love these books the writing is so good I feel like I'm actually in Gatlin and I love that! The characters are so real and some of my favorite charaters are the secondary ones like the 3 crazy great aunts their so funny! I can't wait for Beautiful Chaos!

I tweeted: @MissyRissy_rox (sorry it wouldn't paste)

And I'm a email subscriber:

Katie said...

I liked Beautiful Creatures. I haven't gotten a chance to read Beautiful Darkness though. I am sorry that you did not connect with Lena and Ethan. I connected with them but I agree that it was somewhat difficult at first. I personally don't have a problem with the whole love at first sight thing being used it books even though it has become a cliche. I think that the whole initial hate that becomes love has become a cliche as well. I imagine it is very hard for authors to get perfect strangers deeply invested in one another in a few pages.
I appreciated the attention that the authors placed on developing their secondary characters. It really annoys me when a book has flat characters.
Thanks for the giveaway.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

@Bella -- My main issue was that he suddenly abandoned everything he knew in favor of a girl he just met. It's just as frustrating when a guy does it as when a girl does it (which seems to be the more common scenario in YA).

WhatBriReads said...

I've had Beautiful Creatures on my TBR list for a while now but haven't gotten around to it. It's kind of disappointing to hear that the main characters aren't very easy to relate to, and the mention of falling in love at first sight with no real reason kind of made me cringe a little, but I'm still excited to read the series.

The secondary characters sound quite fun, though, so I'm looking forward to getting to know them. Awesome review!


Krystal said...


I loved this book :) My favorite characters by far were the "Crazy" aunts. I think they really added to the story and acted to draw in the reader. I would love a copy of this book, the plot was interesting...a little intense, and I didn't think the plot dragged much at all. edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
Thank you for the chance to win!

Nikki said...

Hey sometimes secondary characters have to pick up the slack :)

Andrea said...

So, another book w/insta-love & abandoning hopes for love? Thank goodness for supporting characters. Would still live to give the books a try.
I tweeted:

Kristi said...

I have been wanting to read this one for awhile. Even though you couldn't connect Ethan and Lena, it is good to know that the secondary characters kept you entertained. I think I would still like to read it! Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

kherbrand at comcast dot net

hernameisavril said...

I would love to win these books thanks for the opportunity :D

TheBookAddict said...

I enjoyed reading a young-adult, paranormal book from a guy's perspective, and even though I found it hard to pull myself together and read on, I still loved the plot.

+1 spread here:!/PersistentReadr/status/106504031236653056

Lillian Keenan said...

I agree with you about this book. I liked Ethan, but he seemed a little distant. And Lena, well, I liked her, but I, too, didn't get how/why they suddenly just fell so hard for each other. I loved the premise and the minor characters, too. I must say that I was so involved in reading the first book and oblivious to the fact that it was a part of a series, that when I reached the end, I was disappointed not to find out the answers to all the questions the novel raised.

I'd love to win this, and I thank you for having such a cool contest.

Sophia said...

Hmm, I'm sorry you didn't looove it, but I'm glad that it was enjoyable at least. The no chemistry part with Ethan and Lena reminds me a lot of Daniel and Luce in the Fallen series. I've heard lots of great things about this series though (my friend even recommended it to me) so I'm eager to enter this giveaway. Thanks so much! :)


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