Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
UK Publisher: Puffin
Released: February 4th 2010 (first released November 11th 2009 by Little Brown)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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. (from Goodreads)
Beautiful Creatures starts off with the introduction of the town Gatlin. Ethan Wate, Gatlin resident and our narrator, is desperate to leave, to get out of the place he's lived his whole life. He's tired of the same thing every day, tired of the gossip and tired of everyone knowing everyone else's business. But when Lena Duchannes, or "Old man Ravenwood's niece" as most people refer to her, moves to town, Ethan begins to think that maybe things in Gatlin are looking up. Until he realises that Lena, the girl he shares an inexplicable connection with, has been branded an outcast. No-one will speak to her except Ethan, and as he learns more about Lena, he starts to understand the danger that comes with spending time with her.
Beautiful Creatures is an intriguing novel with a very interesting concept. I loved the setting - I could easily picture Gatlin in my head, and I enjoyed reading about the people who lived there, and their views of society. I liked the male point of view; it was nice to see how Ethan looked at things and what he thought about. He didn't really seem like your regular teenage boy, to be honest (unlike his best friend, Link), but I guess that was the point - Ethan wasn't like all the other guys in Gatlin. I also liked any scene Link was in; he was kind of the comic relief of the book, and he always tried to help Ethan the best he could.
Lena was a curious character; immediately after she was introduced you could tell there was something different about her. I liked that she was headstrong, and that she tried to ignore the glares and whispers the the town sent her way. I also liked learning about her past; which is explored more later on in the book once you find out what her secret is. I thought it helped us understand how torn Lena felt and the continuous panic she experienced as her birthday came nearer and nearer. Other characters I liked were Amma, Macon and Ridley. Amma spoke cryptically, and it was obvious she knew a lot of secrets; even if she wouldn't admit it. I liked how, after everything, she still helped Lena in the end because she was doing it for Ethan; which showed how much she cared for him even though it didn't always seem like it. Macon was a character that filled the whole "looks can be deceiving" thing, and though he lied to Lena, I could understand why he did, and it really proved how much he loved his niece and what he was willing to do for her. Ridley was something else. I didn't like her, really, but I felt sorry for her. I could almost understand why she did the things she did, and I felt bad for her towards the end, even after the terrible thing she tried to do.
One complaint I have is that I thought the novel was overly long. Sometimes I found myself skimming some paragraphs and descriptions because I felt they were unnecessary, and were just dragging out some parts. I was also a bit confused towards the end; it was never properly explained how Ethan and Lena could be together after the Claiming, and it was also unclear if Ethan remembered what happened. I guess this will be explained in the sequel, but I was left frowing after I had finished, trying to work out what happened.
Overall, Beautiful Creatures was an enjoyable novel with an intersting premise. I would recommend it to fans of paranormal, and the sequel is now on my wishlist :).