Updated: Aug 3, 2020
" 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. "
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Given the great success of the 'Harry Potter' series, witchcraft has become a prevalent theme in most books written in the last decade. 'Beautiful Creatures' may not have a wizard school, but they do have the old town of Gatlin, South Carolina.
'Beautiful Creatures,' is a witchy novel series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, that brings the family of witches (among other supernatural creatures) to life: focusing on the niece, Lena, who just came to town to live with her shut-in uncle, Macon. Readers soon find out that Lena belongs to one of the oldest families in the Southern town of Gatlin.
Yet, the main character of this book isn't Lena, but a young man named Ethan Wate; a long time resident of Gatlin who attends the local high school. When we meet Ethan, we find out that he has been having dreams of a girl and a song for some time before Lena showed up, but when he overhears Lena playing the exact same song from his dream, he's sure it's her he's dreaming of.
Suddenly, the two, are able to communicate telepathically. This part is written in a way that is not believable for the reader because Ethan has been feeling that he is going crazy up until this point: hearing the song being played by Lena caused him to flee the school, as with some other things (not to give away too much), but when he can suddenly speak to Lena telepathically, it's as if this is completely normal to him. A more believable part would have had Ethan freaking out as he did before, maybe even more so.
The story takes a dramatic turn when Ethan finds an old locket out in a garden beside Macon's house. He and Lena are quickly transported to visions of a past event that happened nearby involving that very locket. For most of the book, the two are trying to find out more about this locket and who it belonged to. Each time Ethan and Lena touch the locket together, they are transported to another event in the same vision. They soon find out that the locket belonged to the loved one of a distant relative belonging to Lena's family from 1865. And as the reader continues, this locket and it's visions hold a very important key to the story.
Throughout the story, it's hinted at that Ethan may not just be a human, but may have some supernatural powers of his own, but unfortunately, this never comes to fruition. Being that this is the first of four books, and I have only read this one, the other books may bring light to this subject. Lena, on the other hand, is about to turn sixteen, and turning sixteen in her family means you will be 'claimed.' Lena explains: " 'In my family, when you turn sixteen, you're Claimed. Your fate is chosen for you, and you become Light, like Aunt Del and Reece, or you become Dark, like Ridley. Dark or Light, Black or White. There's no grey in my family. We can't choose, and we can't undo it once we're Claimed. ' " In summary, Lena's family either become good witches (or whatever supernatural being they are) or bad witches (and such). Lena, by family, is considered a Natural at this point, where she can control the weather, write on walls without her hands or a pen,and break glass at will, so they believe she is most likely to be a Light witch, and they try to reinforce this thought into her throughout the entire book.
'Beautiful Creatures' is a great story, but it has quite a few flaws. The flow of the story is good, but when you come across so many inconsistencies, it can break the connection between story and reader, such as Lena suddenly revealing that her family had a word for what they called the telepathic communication between her and Ethan:
" 'Who knew Kelting would save my life.'
I had missed something, as usual. 'What's Kelting?'
'That's what it's called, the way we're able to communicate with each other no matter where we are. Some Casters can Kelt, some can't. Ridley and I used to be able to talk to each other at school that way, but---' ." Up until this scene, the reader is left to believe that this has never happened to Lena before, so to just bring this out so suddenly leaves us to think that this was a quick add-on to give Lena and her sister, Ridley, more of a connection,. Another time is when the popular girls at the local high school have it out for Lena, Lena lets on that she can't face them, but the very next page she's telling Ethan that she has to:
" I tried to pull her up, but she pulled me back down. She shrunk back next to the tire. 'I just need a minute.'
'Are you okay?'
'Look at them. They think I'm a monster. They formed a club.'
'They can't stand outsiders, and you're the new girl. A window broke. They need someone to blame. This is just a ---'
I wasn't going to say that.
But you were thinking it.
I squeezed her hand and my hair stood on end.
You don't have to do this.
Yes I do. I let people like them run me out of my last school. I'm not going to let it happen again. "
The story continues with Lena fearing that she is going to go Dark, so her and Ethan come across a locket vision of a witchcraft book that may be of help called 'the Book of Moons.' This is, personally, one of my favorite parts of 'Beautiful Creatures' because, in order for them to get the book, they have to go to a specific grave and dig it up! In this very chapter, we get to see a ghost - and this is the only chapter we see a ghost - and it is done wonderfully:
" She was only partially materialized, a mix of cloudy haze and light, fading in and out as the air moved through her ghostly form, but there was no mistaking it. It was Genevieve, the woman in the painting. She had the same golden eyes and long, wavy red hair. Her hair blew gently in the wind, as if she was just a woman sitting on a bench at the bus stop, instead of an apparition sitting on a headstone in a graveyard. She was beautiful, even in her present state, and terrifying at the same time. "
The majority of the story involves Lena's family and Ethan trying everything they can to keep her from being claimed Dark. This seems to be a nod to reality, where all of us have a choice to be a good person or a bad person, but in 'Beautiful Creatures,' the authors play off of the fear that many people have: that they are just like their family, and have no control over who they are or will be. Overall, I believe readers of the 'Harry Potter' series would like this book, but would I read this again, although I gave it a very low rating? Yes, the story is that intriguing, but the writing could use quite a bit of work.
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