Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. But something is standing in their way, something supernatural. Sound familiar? Yes, this sounds like a familiar setup, but believe it or not this one is slightly different. The story I am looking at is “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. “Beautiful Creatures” takes place is a small Southern town called Gatlin, where a young man named Ethan Wate lives. Both his life and the town’s change when a girl named Lena Ducchanes arrives bringing suspicion and strange events alive. As Ethan and Lena grow closer he discovers that she is a member of a race of witches who call themselves Casters and on her 16th birthday she will turn either good or evil forever.
What makes “Beautiful Creatures” such an amazing book is the world that it creatures. Garcia and Stohl create an amazing southern Gothic backstory. Kami Garcia has family roots in the South and drew upon them to create her story. The town of Gatlin and the Casters are closely linked together through history that extends back to the Civil War. I have not read many books in small Southern towns so it was a treat for me to read. I think that fans of other Southern supernatural books such as “True Blood” would enjoy the setting. But the world also holds many dark secrets that come to light throughout the story. This backdrop created an atmosphere that sucked me as a reader into the story.
Along with the setting, the main characters also make the story enjoyable to read. It was intriguing for me that the story was told through the eyes of Ethan Wate. Since so many novels are written from the girl’s perspective, it was refreshing to read from the guy’s point of view. Ethan comes off as a very likable, sometimes awkward, but very relatable guy who is way out of his league but refuses to back down. Lena Ducchanes is also amazing being a powerful witch who just wants to be a normal girl. What I loved about her was how realistically she reacted to situations. I could feel her overwhelming fear as she slowly reached the day when she knew she would have her free will stripped away and potentially hurt everyone she loved. Their slowly blossoming romance seemed very real and genuine to me. These characters really made me care about them and want to follow them throughout their journey.
Along with Ethan and Lena, the minor characters contributed so much to the atmosphere. Macon Ravenwood, Lena’s uncle, shows himself as a recluse who never leaves his house because he does not want to deal with the outside world. Ethan’s housekeeper and friend Amma is a strict no-nonsense woman who is well versed in voodoo and communication with spirits. Link is Ethan’s clueless but loyal best friend and Lena’s cousin Ridley is shown as a good girl turned bad for reasons tragically beyond her control. Even the minor townspeople contribute by their willingness to ostracize Lena just for being different, which shows the devastating power of a group of narrow-minded people given a common enemy.
“Beautiful Creatures” is a book I would recommend to anyone who is interested in a story with magic, romance, action, suspense and adventure. And if people like the book, this Febuary a movie adaptation is coming out directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich as Lena and Ethan, as well as starring Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum.