Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Garcia
“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.”
Ethan Wate lives in a small, old southern town in South Carolina where nothing much happens and everything is always the same. As a member of one of the older families in town, he is treated well, gets decent grades and is quickly becoming one of the stars on the basketball team. However, since the death of his mother, none of this matters. He can’t wait to leave Gatlin and its antiquated ways behind. That was before he met Lena Duchannes. As the niece of the town recluse, Lena is anything but welcome in Gatlin. Although Ethan knows he should avoid befriending this social pariah, he can’t seem to leave her alone. It doesn’t help that she was making appearances in his dreams long before they ever met. As Ethan gets closer to Lena, he learns her haunting family history, and the reason she dreads her upcoming 16th birthday. Lena’s very being depends on them learning the secrets of an old artifact which played a central role in the beginning and horrific end of a love story that would forever alter generations of Lena’s family.
It took me awhile to write this review because I loved the book so much. The authors do a wonderful job of realistically portraying the small, southern town of Gatlin. They expertly describe the scenery, sounds and people of this place so much so that the reader feels like everything in the book could possibly exist. I enjoyed Ethan as the narrator throughout the book. Many fantasy novels, especially ones that include love stories, have female narrators, so I though Ethan was a nice change of pace. The love story between Ethan and Lena develops very well, but I never felt as though it was the main focus of the plot. In my personal opinion, the real driving force for the plot lies in Lena, her intriguing family members (like creepy Uncle Macon and Boo) and their history. They kept the book moving for me and the relationship between Ethan and Lena was more of a pleasant side effect. I wish it would have wrapped up a little better, but it does not leave you with a cliffhanger. I don’t want to give anything away, but Beautiful Creatures was a wonderfully crafted story with interesting characters and the perfect setting. Don’t miss it!
The Bottom Line: It’s obvious that I loved this one! It is not my favorite of 2009, but it is certainly up there. Read it for the hauntingly, mysterious storyline and the realistic, not-too-sweet love story. This is the first in a planned 5 book series. I assume the next will be released around December 2010.