Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)Hot
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
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.
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
At least, thats what I thought.
Turns out, I couldnt have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
From the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES WEBSITE
Theres nothing I love more than a story that still speaks to me days after Ive read the last page. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have crafted just that with BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
Ethan Wate is observant, a truth-teller about the way things are in his small town. A town hes ready to escape. Gatlin isnt just the setting in BEAUTIFUL CREATURES its another character. The descriptions of the South live and breathe, seducing us into the story with promises of mysterious secrets from both the present and hundreds of years ago.
From interactions with his three elderly aunts (who are absolutely hilarious) to the respect he shows to Amma, the housekeeper who helped raise him, we see that Ethan understands family duty and loyalty. Only one thing challenges that loyalty.
Lena Duchannes, rhymes with rain.
Lena is the niece of Macon Ravenwood, Gatlins most notorious recluse. From the moment Lena arrives in Gatlin, she doesnt have a chance. The house she lives in with her uncle is referred to as the Haunted Mansion. To make matters worse, she drives around in his hearse. Neither of these things fly in Gatlin - especially with the high school crowd. Lena is immediately an outcast. That doesnt stop Ethan from putting himself on the line for her in front of his friends.
Everything changes on the day Ethan blacks out in class and has a dream hes had before, a dream about a girl &
I dont want to ruin the story so Ill keep the rest of the review spoiler free. If you love paranormal romance, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is for you. Garcia and Stohl are masters at their craft, writing seamless prose that never once pulls the reader out of the story. The details are rich, creating a world thats easily believable and instantly comfortable. The pace is perfect, building tension at just the right speed. The characters are my favorite aspect of the story; even the most minor are perfectly rounded and three-dimensional.
Beautiful Creatures receives the highest of high recommendations I have a paperback Advanced Reader Copy, but will be buying it in hardback for my personal library. And good news! Not only is there a sequel, movie rights have been sold!
We are introduced to a young Ethan Wate who's been living in the small southern town of Gatlin all his life. He’s been counting the days when he’s finally able to leave... that is, until he’s haunted in his dreams by a beautiful girl he’s never even met. Then there’s the new girl Lena Duchannes who’s struggling to hide her magical abilities and the curse which never left her family for generations. Weirdly enough, Ethan feels a pull towards Lena and thus, becomes determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
I can tell you that Beautiful Creatures isn’t the next Harry Potter no matter how magically captivating this book can seem at times-- because, for crying out loud, it’s Harry-freakin’-Potter and that’s not just something you can replicate the success of. And some of the more upbeat reviews on this book had me a little worried... largely franchised YA books set the bar so high in the market, and when you have something compared to so highly regarded you let yourself expect so much. And no one-- and I mean no one-- likes a let down.
Beautiful Creatures is a collaborative effort between Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which, from experience, trying writing collabs can be super tough so I offer them my kudos for that. The thing about writing story collabs is that sometimes it can be hard trying to balance between the tones because, after all, it’s two totally different people with two totally different literary styles. And the way they blended them together in Beautiful Creatures was a bit, say, unbalanced? Not saying it was bad because they’re both individually talented in their own ways of course, but how they even out their writing together was clearly, well... was uneven. Sometimes, I even found myself going “Wait, what the huh?” because I was just little confused at some scenes and had to re-read at some parts, too.
Again, I have to say that Beautiful Creatures is set in a fictional Southern town called Gatlin. I’m not from the South but the ideas and opinions of some of its people are a little outdated, especially considering that Beautiful Creatures is set in this modern day and age. At times, I thought some of the events happening around Gatlin just seem way too old-fashioned to even happen in the 21st century. Could it? I mean, I had gotten this total old South vibe from the book and just felt like a super different portrayal of what it’s like in modern day, and more like the 20th (and more past) century ideals.
And in addition to this, maybe I probably should’ve been expecting it, but YES-- there is a bit of instalove. The romance feels flat-out rushed to me from the start. Okay, don’t get me wrong the romance between the two main leads kept my interest-- and if it probably weren’t for my own curiosity for finding out why the two were so connected, I would’ve put the book down to begin with because for a greater half of the book (and that’s a almost three-hundred paged half) it was slow moving and I became bored. There wasn’t much happening to start, and while it had tender moments, it just wasn’t doing it for me. The action and best scenes probably don’t come to the very end of the book, and if you’re a moderate-paced reader like myself, then that’s reaaally a long time to wait.
Here’s the bottom line: I liked it. Just liked it. I can’t say that I uberly-enjoyed it because some parts I felt as if the plot wasn’t really going anywhere, and this just made it really hard for me to feel as good about it. Okay, yeah, it does have its “awww” moments and just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the action too, and the mystery behind all the characters are just that interesting enough to keep me reading. If you’re a reader in a fast lane and just love fast-paced novels, then I can’t say this will be a big hit-- because, as I mentioned before, it kind of begins on the--meeeeh--slowish side. I liked it enough to recommend it at least, but only to those who truly, truly like the genre and if you’re that willing to tread through a nearly 600-paged novel.
This book surprised me by having the prominent character being Ethan instead of Lena. Normally love stories are told through the girl’s perspective since girls are normally more emotional and can convey a love story in a more romantic fashion that appeals to the readers (who are most often females themselves). Surprisingly the love story between Ethan and Lena told mainly through Ethan still presented a highly romantic feeling. Even while Ethan was confused by Lena, the reader could tell he had feelings for her and his determination to explore those feelings was swoon-worthy.
The mystery of the Casters and Lena’s destiny was interesting to watch unfold within the nearly 600-page monster of a book. I found myself reminiscing on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series where there were so many plot twists and new magical developments that just simply worked perfectly and flowed effortlessly.
The book touches on not just paranormal fun and a teenage romance, but on more somber topics such as bullying. My heart broke for those in the crosshairs of the bullies of Gatlin. I found myself wishing I could conjure some magic to strike down the foes of the characters I had come to love. The mark of literary genius is in the way the reader connects with the characters the author has created. Well, Garcia and Stohl, are literary geniuses because I fell hook, line, and sinker for all of the characters in this book (even the protagonists! Fancy that!).
In conclusion, this book was highly enjoyable. Although the length did cause the story to hit a few lulls throughout its intricate storytelling, it was still something I would highly recommend to any of my bibliophile buddies. Trust me when I say, read the book before watching the movie. It is always better to go into a movie with the entire story firmly pressed into your mind.
I loved that the story was set in the South. Because of this you can really see how poorly Lena is treated by the people in this town especially since they go by Southern hospitality. Where was it for her? Just because she was different all pretense was dropped and she was treated like a pariah. When Ethan begins to hang out with Lena, he begins to lose everything as well even though the town still claims him as their own since his family has been there for years. He begins to be shunned just as much as Lena, the only difference is Ethan is perfectly okay with it.
The fact that the story is about magic is what really held my attention. I love stories about witches, though in this case it's Casters. It was even more enjoyable due to the fact that the one telling the story wasn't the Caster but a Mortal. So we get to see the magic through the eyes of someone who isn't used to it and that really brings a whole new level to the story.
I really liked Ethan. He was loyal and kind and didn't put up with any of the crap the other kids in his class did. He stood up for Lena even though he was the only one doing it and never even thought twice about it. Lena was another great character, though her constant worrying did get old pretty fast, she was strong as well and when it came to Ethan there was nothing she wouldn't do to save him.
I recommend this for anybody who enjoys having a male point of view in Young Adult fiction. If you're a fan of magic and mystery as well as adventure then you should definitely check this book out.
I'm a Southern girl, so when I find a (good) YA book set in the South I get giddy. Plain and simple. Some of the descriptions were spot on, but some were a bit cliche. I was able to overlook the insulting depiction of Southerns since the authors are not from the south. I figured, what do they know really? I mean, we aren't all ignorant an incapable of putting a grammatically correct sentence together. Unlike the "Southern Belles" in Beautiful Creatures. I'm just going to tell myself that the authors made them over the top to make a point. I'd also like to know what small town in South Carolina have a rich voodoo culture. Seems like the setting for this book would have been better in Lousianna somewhere than in South Carolina. I was also a little surprised by the point of view of the narrator. It was told from Ethan's perspective. Now, I love a good male narrator, but this didn't feel like a typical teenage boy. It felt more like a highly emotional girl was telling the tale. Not believable at all in my opinion. That was a drawback. But, like I said... I was able to over look all of this because the descriptions and amount of detail that went into building the setting was so fantastic.
The characters were also great. Ethan and Lena were interesting, even if they fell helplessly in love right from the start. I really have problems with that type of story, but that's for another time. It actually worked in Beautiful Creatures since their love story was based on a family curse from long ago. I would be wrong though, if I said they were my favorites. I really enjoyed Macon and Amma. They were my true favorites. I loved Amma's quirks and the mysteriousness surrounding Macon. I also loved the dog named after Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Priceless.
If you love a good paranormal romance/mystery, then this is for you! It has all the spooky elements of a paranormal read with just the right amount of mystery to keep you turning the pages.
Ethan has a recurring nightmare about a girl he's never met, who he is trying desperately to save. He has never seen her face, and she falls from his grasp. Again and again and again. When he nearly runs over Lena, standing in the middle of the road, he is sure that this is the girl from his dreams.
But "We don't take kindly to strangers [in Gaitlin]". They are deeply suspicious of Lena and it doesn't help that she is the niece of a man who never come out of his house. She faces lots of troubles at school, and at home too, where she is preparing for the Claiming, which will determine whether she will be Light or Dark.
Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to mention. Lena and all her family are witches (Casters)
This is a very long book, 563 pages, and so in some parts the story drags on a bit.
Ethan doesn't think like a sixteen year old, or a boy, in my point of view. He doesn't sound like a boy. He was very poetic and romantic so I think that lots of females would like it, but it didn't cut it for me.
The story had a good plot, and I think with a bit more tweaking, like cutting it down a bit, or adjusting Ethan's voice, it could have been a five-star for me.
Something to try if you don't mind long books.
- I liked the plot
- Definitely potential here
The Setting: The town of Gatlin is really something else. It's full of history, charming and quaint but also unforgiving and exclusive. This all leads to an incredibly dynamic setting for Beautiful Creatures. Gatlin has all the makings for the perfect setting for a Southern Gothic novel: moss-covered cemeteries, winding country roads, rows and rows of ancient trees and a crumbling plantation on the hill. But it isn't just Gatlin that entrances the reader, there's also the ever-changing Ravenwood: the oldest house in town and home to the town recluse, Greenbriar: the burnt-out rubble of what used to be Ravenwood's neighbor before General Sherman got to it and of course a secret, enchanted library that is literally underground. Color me spooked, I love it!
The characters: Part of what makes Gatlin such and awesome locale is the local population. There are so many wonderful characters, both good and bad, and they make this book something special. First there are our two main characters and lovebirds Ethan and Lena, they are so real. They are brave, but not fearless, intelligent, but not unreachable and completely in love with each other (which, lets face it, is pretty much irresistable). Then there is Amma, she is like Ethan's adopted grandma. She can bake like nobody's business, keep a teenage boy reined in and still find time to make voodoo dolls. I want her to adopt me. And there should be a totally different book just about Amma and Lena's Uncle Macon Ravenwood, the town shut-in who happens to look like a movie star. Their relationship is so antagonistic and funny that I really found myself wishing there was more of it in the book. I need to know their history together. Ravenwood is a true Southern gentleman who holds none of the prejudices of his fellow Gatlin-ites. He is fiercely protective of Lena and is an all-around entertaining old excentric. Finally there is Ridley, she is Lena's cousin and ex best friend who went "dark" on her 16th birthday. Her character holds a complexity that isn't truly showcased until the end of the book. She is evil, of course, and she appears to like being that way but you get the feeling that maybe there is something else going on there that keeps you wanting more. Plus she's just tons of fun.
The message: The best part of the story, though, has to be the message. I'm a big believer in creating your own destiny with what you are given. Lena has to face the possibility that her free will might be taken away and that she will not be able to control her own fate. This sends her on a quest to take back the reins become the author of her own destiny.
The cover: I mean, seriously, could it get any spookier or more ominous? I probably wouldn't have taken so long to read the book if I hadn't kept staring at the cover all the time.
Nothing, seriously. I really couldn't think of anything in this book that I didn't enjoy. If I had to choose, maybe Marian Ashcroft would be a little annoying in person (who speaks in quotes that much?) but she had her role in the story and at times could be really amazing.
I loved this book! I'm so happy I finally picked it up and I can't wait for the film (release date is set for February 13th, 2013). I would recommend this to anyone who loves romance, a spooky setting and, of course, a little magic.
The town of Gatlin was very well-written. I could picture this small town with its variety of characters and very interesting history, which you find out a lot about. It was a great setting for this darker tale.
The story itself was mystifying and kept my interest throughout the whole book. While the idea of Casters, as they are called in the book, might not be totally original, the mythology behind it was very well thought out. It felt like the authors knew where the story was going at all times, even if the reader didn't (which I know I didn't).
The characters really stood out to me. It was nice seeing things from Ethan's perspective. He's lived in this town where nothing has ever happened before all his life, and now there's this new girl that completely throws him and the whole town off guard. It was cool seeing how he reacts to and slowly falls for Lena. I really liked Lena too. She was strong and different, someone you sympathized for and wanted to root for. The other characters were also complex and great to read about.
Overall: A great start to a series that I think will just get better and better. I can't wait to see what's in store for the next book!
I didn't feel the chemistry between the two main characters, Ethan and Lena, and I just found that I didn't care for them as I should have. It also dragged on a bit. There were scenes that didn't necessarily pull the story along but instead slowed the pace. I just didn't get into it as I found the characterisation a little flat and lacking authenticity.