Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown 2009
Nothing ever happens in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. It's like time and opinions have been frozen since the Civil War, and 16-year-old Ethan is tired of being stuck with these small minded people. But nothing could have prepared him for the arrival of Lena Duchanes. It's evident from the start that she's no ordinary girl, but it's more than that. Lena is a Caster and on her 16th birthday, she will be claimed for either the Light or the Dark, good or evil. What could a mortal boy like Ethan have to do with any of it? Everything, it turns out, especially when he falls in love with her.
Over the course of about a week, I was wrapped up in this Southern Gothic world that Garcia and Stohl have built up. A lot of things are done right: Ethan, the mortal boy, being the narrator was a smart move and a pleasant departure from the usual female narrators in this genre. Many secondary characters are deeper and more complicated than they initially seem, the pace of the story fits perfectly for the south, and these writers clearly thought long and hard about the Caster world and the rules that it must abide by.
For those reasons, I really liked this book. I'll probably pick up the next books in the series at some point, but I don't feel a rush to this very second. Some pieces didn't quite fit together in my mind. There were times when I felt like some plot points were dragged out and redundant (mostly when everyone in school was ostracizing Lena because she's an other, different, an outsider). And there were lots of questions I had which are probably answered in later books, but for right now I feel like they're a bit unnecessarily open.
If you like fantasy, want something with some paranormalcy, romance, and the flavor of the south, then the Caster Chronicles is the series for you. Like I said, I really liked it, but maybe I wasn't in the perfect mindset for falling in love. I'm certainly interested to see how the movie compares, though.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
Kami Garcia's Website
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Margaret Stohl's Website
Margaret Stohl on Twitter