Friday, July 23, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #1)

Ethan Wate is haunted by a strange song in his dreams, and he's enthralled by the beautiful girl with a crescent moon birthmark under her eye who seems to accompany it, but he shrugs them both off-- until he sees her on the first day of school playing that song in the music room.  Her name is Lena Duchennes, and he soon discovers even weirder things about her: she drives a hearse, she's the town recluse's niece, and strange storms seem to break out when she's upset.  Rather than being scared off, Ethan is drawn to her even more and soon breaks through her defenses, and they find a deep inexplicable bond.  But it cannot be.  She is a Caster-- she and all of her family have special powers, but not all of them are good.  On her 16th birthday, she will be Claimed for Light or Dark-- and it's only a few months away.  Together, they're determined to break the curse on her family, and Ethan's family history may hold the clue...

This book was fairly incredible.  It wasn't perfect, but it deserves the buzz it's getting.  I agree with most every other review out there-- an American South setting and a male narrator add to this book's uniqueness and gives it a different mood from all the other YA fantasy out there.  This story is rich, with history, with love, and with creepiness.  There is almost too much to talk about what I love, so I'll hit on some highlights.  Lena and Ethan's love is deeply organic to the story-- I never for a moment doubt their feelings for each other, as Garcia and Stohl make you believe in both free will and fate at the same time (an overarching theme that affects more than just their relationship).  Also refreshing are the prominent black characters, in positions of immense power and influence (though you wouldn't know it at first-- always a good lesson to learn).  Also, creepy though he may seem (and justifiably so), but his Southern gentlemanliness, sophistication, and iconoclasm had me falling completely head over heels for Lena's reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood.  On a more general note, it's also a love letter to books and stories, to reading, to libraries-- something that nearly everyone who picks it up should be able to appreciate.

Its main weakness is that it does start, not exactly slowly, but unrushed.  Garcia and Stohl take great care in constructing this world and it pays off in a big way.  Don't miss it, or the upcoming sequel, Beautiful Darkness.  You can read the first 58 pages of BC here.



  1. Great review - I loved Beautiful Creatures too, gorgeous story. Can't wait for Beautiful Darkness now!x

  2. I'm itching to get started my BD ARC (especially since a bunch got handed out at Comic-Con, so we're soon to be flooded with BD reviews) but I want to finish Manifest, and maybe Majix, before I start it.


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