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

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Witches, Pages: 563, Reading Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“There were no surprises in Gatlin County.

We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that’s what I thought.

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.”

“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.”

Ethan is a high school student who lives in the south. And when I say south, I mean the South- Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) south, Civil War re-enactment south, poofy Gone with the Wind prom dresses south. Along comes Lena Duchannes. The only thing south about Lena Duchannes is her name. Of course, Ethan is drawn to her. Then he finds out she is a witch and his whole world changes. Gatlin has been hiding a huge secret and Ethan is about to find out what that secret is.

I am middle of the road on the sub-genre of witches. I guess either the book has to be really good or I have to really be in the mood to read about witches. Luckily for me, Beautiful Creatures is really good. I could not put the book down.

I am from the south and absolutely love the south, but I did not grow up the south. I guess that may be part of the reason I enjoy stories set there, especially if there are civil war re-enactments with s’more schnapps. Or is that South Park? Yes, no s’more schnapps here. The whole DAR thing, the small town gossip and politics, the clichés… I love it. Allow me to clarify. I love to read about it. So placing a whole Goth witch story right smack in the center of a War of Northern Aggression culture just tickles me pink.

BTW, did you know the confederate flag is called the bars and stripes? I didn’t and I’m from the south. I looked it up to see if it was true and it is all over the place. How did I not know that? It just goes to show that you can learn something from a Young Adult novel about witches.

Besides the culture, which includes a southern accent, the reader will also be entertained with a fair amount of humor, sometimes at the expense of the culture. This is an exchange between two of Ethan’s grand-aunts as they are playing Scrabble:

Aunt Mercy put down her tiles, one at a time. I-T-C-H-I-N.

Aunt Grace leaned closer to the board, squinting. “Mercy Lynne, you’re cheatin’ again! What kinda word is that? Use it in a sentence.”

“I’m itchin’ ta have some a that white cake.”

“That’s not how you spell it.” At least one of them could spell. Aunt Grace pulled one of the tiles off the board. “There’s no T in itchin’.” Or not.

Onto the witches! Often I get a little frustrated when too many different types of supernatural creatures are introduced in a story. Here, it is a little different. Just as humans have different races with different talents, so does the caster world. So Garcia & Stohl did a really good job of introducing the reader to a wide and interesting world of witches with all kinds of colorful characters. You will get a couple of characters that we are not quite sure what they are yet, but it is manageable. Obviously so if I gave this book such a high rating.

And I like the high school story with the stereotypical, mean girl cheerleaders and their queen bee or queen bee wannabe moms. It’s hilarious. The authors did a good job with the love story as well. It came across quite natural.

I am surprised at how much I like all the characters, even the bad ones. They were all written very well. Another added bonus is that I am quite fond of the lead female character, Lena Duchannes. Besides the fact that I love her name (I actually considered naming my daughter Evangelina and calling her Lina), I truly liked and cared about her. After Bella in the Twilight series and Sookie in the Sookie Stackhouse series (True Blood), I was losing hope that I would ever find a female lead that I would like. Thank you Garcia & Stohl. You have restored my hope.

Anyway, I hope the remaining three books are just as good as this one because Beautiful Creatures blew my socks off. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Christina

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