Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Little Brown. Publication Date December 2009. Reviewed from ARC supplied by publisher. Official Book Website.
Ethan Wate wants out of his small, sleepy, South Carolina town, where nothing ever changes and only "the stupid and the stuck" stay. It's a town where any "new girl" is the subject of much attention. All the more so when the new girl is Lena Duchannes, niece of Old Man Ravenwood, the town recluse who lives in a run-down plantation house. She is pale in a town where the girls are tan; wears black; and has numbers scrawled on her hands. Weird; but Ethan cannot stop thinking about her, even dreaming about her.
Odd thing is; the dreams started even before she moved to town.
There are family trees. More than one. There are certain types of readers who, just knowing this, will put this on their TBR list.
The tricky thing about reviewing a book like this -- a book that is about secrets -- is figuring out just how much, if any, of the secrets to reveal. On the one hand, readers like to discover things for themselves as they read the book; on the other hand, one or two of those secrets may need to be told up front, because they could be the reason a reader wants to read the book. For example, in my review of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I said "zombies". So here I will say "supernatural" and "witches" (er, "casters" is the preferred term in Beautiful Creatures.)
Now that I've given that away, this is a lushly written Southern Gothic tale, with family and town secrets, and teens discovering that the world is not what they thought it was. It's not just finding out that the supernatural is real; it's learning that trusted adults have kept secrets. And then trying to figure out what to do about it; and trying to take charge of your future when everyone is telling you that future is set in stone.
I won't say this is the next Twilight (because I'm scared of Carlie and she hates reviews that do that.). I will say that this has several elements that will appeal to those who liked Twilight: an against-the-odds, everything-is-working-at-keeping-them-apart romantic pairing; a unique author(s) created supernatural mythology built around "casters"; a setting (Gatlin, SC) that is as much a character as any of the people in the book; it's long, with a lot of details and description for readers to sink their teeth into; and plenty of teasers for a next book. (Yes, this book isn't technically published yet and I already want to read the next one.)
What else to say about the book without giving anything important away?
I kept on wanting to call this Dangerous Creatures.
I read it on vacation in North Carolina, so the southern Carolina town atmosphere made a huge impact on me.
Beautiful Creatures stuck with me; after reading it, I'm still thinking about Lena, Ethan, their family and friends, the casters, and other details.
It's two authors! The narrator is Ethan, so it's not like they did the old "you pick one person to write, I pick the other." Not that I know either author's writing styles, but the writing was seamless. You never thought, hm, I distinctly hear one voice here, another style there. I imagine they did what Sophie and I did in writing our book; pass chapters back and forth with so much revisions that it became truly a joint project.
Caster Girls Blog. Best read after you read the book.
Joint Author Site.
My Twitter Review.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy