Saturday, 15 December 2012

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Website Twitter: Kami Garcia|Margaret Stohl
Published: 4 February 2010 (Penguin)
Format: paperback
Pages: 563
Amazon: paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: paperback|e-book
Book Depository: paperback

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

My Review:
I'd heard a lot of good things about this book, and with a film adaptation in the works I knew I had to try and read it before the film came out! Beautiful Creatures tells the story of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes. Lena is the new girl in a small American town and it's clear she doesn't fit in. She has a recluse for an uncle, drives a hearse and strange things keep happening around her. But somehow Ethan is drawn to her.

I really loved the small town feeling of the book when it starts out. The descriptions of the people and the town itself were really witty and all of the characters were so wonderfully described. Being British I couldn't tell you much about southern America and that culture, but I could still get a lot of the jokes and jibes about that small community lifestyle.

The book is narrated by Ethan who I really liked. He's vulnerable, having lost his mother and living with a father who spends all day shut away in his office. I loved how quirky when Lena was when she first appears as well. It takes a little while to get in to just what the connection between these two is. It's obvious there's something going on, particularly with Lena, and when the two of them discover that they can communicate telepathically it makes you really want to know just what's happening! My one flaw with the book is just how long it took to get to the reveal which happens about 150 pages in. From there I was completely hooked.

When it takes so long to get to an important reveal I never know how much counts as a spoiler, so if you want to know absolutely nothing going into the book then stop reading now. But the book revolves around the world of the "Casters" - a race of magical people with a range of abilities, from controlling nature to seeing the future. I loved the rich, imaginative parts of Beautiful Creatures, yet at the same time it felt very rooted in the real world. There's a lot of teen action set around a high school so you get a lot of that typical teen angst, fighting and drama over who's popular and who's not. But then you contrast that with the magic which gives it this old world feeling. I really liked the mix.

We learn pretty early on that something about Lena's 16th birthday is significant, and so the approaching date creates this great tension as time ticks away. I was expecting this book to be a bit of a soppy love story but it's really not. What I adored about Lena and Ethan's relationship was how it was all about this connection between them which felt completely natural. I was completely invested in the two of them and their story.

There's plenty of action, and a great sense of good versus evil when it comes to the climax of the story. If you like stories with magic and a bit of romance then I really recommend this book. It's quite long at over 500 pages but once you get a couple of hundred pages in, it's worth ploughing through. This is the first book in the Caster Chronicles series and really does a good job at setting up the world. The ending wasn't quite what I expected but it really wet my appetite for more!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, book 2 in the Caster Chronicles series
Books like this: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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