Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: paranormal romance, southern gothic
Pages: 563
Published: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Little Brown
Rating: 5/5 Stars

"There were no surprises in Gatlin County. 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." - Goodreads

 Dark, haunting and mesmerizing.  These are the words that come to mind when I reflect on this book.  Somewhere between Twilight and Harry Potter, Beautiful Creatures is a wonderful example of all that is good in Young Adult literature.  Garcia and Stohl weave a captivating tale that pulls you in from the first page.  The characters are honest and dynamic, the plot is whimsical and terrifying and the theme is timeless: are we in control of our own destinies or are they decided for us?  Set against the prejudices of a backwards little town in the south and it's not so small-town inhabitants, Beautiful Creatures builds a world that is easy to lose yourself in.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick this one up, it probably had something to do with the fact that the book is a whopper at 563 pages (I could seriously use this thing as a weapon if necessary), but since the movie has begun filming in New Orleans I decided I better get a move on.  It took me awhile to plow through it, but it was totally worth the time.  Beautiful Creatures has become one of my favorite books!


The Setting:  The town of Gatlin is really something else.  It's full of history, charming and quaint but also unforgiving and exclusive.  This all leads to an incredibly dynamic setting for Beautiful Creatures.   Gatlin has all the makings for the perfect setting for a Southern Gothic novel: moss-covered cemeteries, winding country roads, rows and rows of ancient trees and a crumbling plantation on the hill.  But it isn't just Gatlin that entrances the reader, there's also the ever-changing Ravenwood:  the oldest house in town and home to the town recluse, Greenbriar: the burnt-out rubble of what used to be Ravenwood's neighbor before General Sherman got to it and of course a secret, enchanted library that is literally underground.  Color me spooked, I love it!  
The characters:  Part of what makes Gatlin such and awesome locale is the local population.  There are so many wonderful characters, both good and bad,  and they make this book something special.  First there are our two main characters and lovebirds Ethan and Lena,  they are so real.  They are brave, but not fearless, intelligent, but not unreachable and completely in love with each other (which, lets face it, is pretty much irresistable).  Then there is Amma, she is like Ethan's adopted grandma.  She can bake like nobody's business, keep a teenage boy reined in and still find time to make voodoo dolls.  I want her to adopt me.  And there should be a totally different book just about Amma and Lena's Uncle Macon Ravenwood, the town shut-in who happens to look like a movie star.  Their relationship is so antagonistic and funny that I really found myself wishing there was more of it in the book.  I need to know their history together.  Ravenwood is a true Southern gentleman who holds none of the prejudices of his fellow Gatlin-ites.  He is fiercely protective of Lena and is an all-around entertaining old excentric.  Finally there is Ridley, she is Lena's cousin and ex best friend who went "dark" on her 16th birthday.  Her character holds a complexity that isn't truly showcased until the end of the book.  She is evil, of course, and she appears to like being that way but you get the feeling that maybe there is something else going on there that keeps you wanting more.  Plus she's just tons of fun.
The message:  The best part of the story, though, has to be the message.  I'm a big believer in creating your own destiny with what you are given.  Lena has to face the possibility that her free will might be taken away and that she will not be able to control her own fate.  This sends her on a quest to take back the reins become the author of her own destiny.  
The cover:  I mean, seriously, could it get any spookier or more ominous?  I probably wouldn't have taken so long to read the book if I hadn't kept staring at the cover all the time.


Nothing, seriously.  I really couldn't think of anything in this book that I didn't enjoy.  If I had to choose, maybe Marian Ashcroft would be a little annoying in person (who speaks in quotes that much?) but she had her role in the story and at times could be really amazing.

I loved this book!  I'm so happy I finally picked it up and I can't wait for the film (release date is set for February 13th, 2013).  I would recommend this to anyone who loves romance, a spooky setting and, of course, a little magic.


  1. I have this entire series so far. I never quite got around to finishing book 1, but the series is on my short stack to read, which basically means it's not in the attic. I do love what I've read so far. You have inspred me to try to catch up with it.

  2. Yay, I'm glad you're moving it up on the list. You won't be disappointed :)

  3. Thanks for doing this review I'm going to start this one after I get through with the book I'm reading now.

  4. I've been wanting to read this forever! Thanks for the review. I will have to move it up in my tbr pile. :)

  5. i gave 4 stars for the book and i can't wait to see the movies :)

  6. I've heard a lot of good things about the setting in this book, and I absolutely adore fantastic settings. But I've also heard that it can be kinda slow, you don't mention that. Sounds like it's still worth a shot, though.

    1. There were some parts that weren't as quick as others but I was so absorbed in the atmosphere that I really didn't mind

  7. Nice review. I really, really want to read this book. :)

    1. I completely agree with you! It was a beautiful read!

  8. I liked this book. I was very disappointed with the movie though. So much wrong there... Anyways great review!