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.
Ethan has lived his whole live in Gatlin. He knows everything, what is expected of him, where he can go and his exact place in town. A place that Ethan desperately wants to break out off. Each day is the same. School, basketball practice, dinner, sleep. A routine that Ethan could repeat in his sleep, that is, if he got any sleep. Ethan has been plagued by dreams. Dreams so real that Ethan wakes up covered in dirt and water, dirt and water that can’t be explained away. Something is happening in Gatlin, and Ethan is at the centre.
Enter Lena. If being an outsider isn’t bad enough, Lena is the niece of Macon Ravenwood, commonly referred to as Old Man Ravenwood by the people of Gatlin, and living out at the old Ravenwood plantation, which superstitions has it is haunted. To top it all off, Lena isn’t what you would call ‘normal’ for Gatlin. For one, she has no interest in being a cheerleader, instead plays the viola, wears more black than the average person and sits at the front of the English class. To top it off, strange things seem to happen around Lena – windows exploding, thunderstorms appearing and changing room arrangements are just the beginning.
Ethan is drawn to Lena in a way that can’t be explained. Something about Lena reminds Ethan of the presences felt in his dreams. Suddenly, Lena becomes the centre of Ethan’s world. As everyone at Jackson High is doing everything they can to make Lena a nothing, Ethan is absorbing as much of her world as possible. Ethan is the only one who has noticed the sharpie-drawn number on her hand, and while his classmates are quick to blame Lena for the strange occurrences, Ethan tries to get Lena to open up and give her a chance to explain why they are happening. With Ethan not taking no for an answer, Lena eventually lowers her guard, slowly by slowly letting Ethan into her life.
And as more strange events occur, even Lena can’t deny that she feels the same connection that Ethan feels for her. Ethan is thrown headfirst into the world of the Casters and discovering an ancient connection to the past, along with Lena, they are pitted against the universe. As Lena’s 16th birthday draws closer, Ethan and Lena must discover the key that could change Lena’s future.
Beautiful Creatures is one of those books that don’t happen very often. Fresh and new, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl have woven an urban fantasy novel that gives the often over-done young adult romance genre something different. A love story told from the male perspective. Seeing the story and reading through Ethan’s perspective was something that I loved about this book. Too many romance books have the female character constantly fawning over the male lead. This didn’t occur, and it was the differences that made reading from Ethan’s point of view work. Ethan didn’t overtly say that he was in love with Lena, yet it was his attention to the small details surrounding Lena that allowed me as a reader to see the true depth of his love before Ethan would even admit it to himself. The material of the Caster’s was also something that I enjoyed immensely. Their whole world was this rich culture that was thought out and developed in fine detail, yet at all stages seemed plausible and read, especially the way that Lena and her family moved around the topic of their special abilities with people not of their family. Linked in with this was Ethan’s aunt Amma, a character that I fell in love with by the end of the novel. Along with the many members of Lena’s family and Ethan’s friends at school, there were many a variety of characters that made the world of Beautiful Creatures enriching and enjoyable to read about.
Beautiful Creatures is one fantasy world that I would like to visit.
Publication date: Australia – 2010, USA – Dec. 2009
*Beautiful Creatures is also our Book Club read for the month of January. Join the discussion here.