Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA paranormal fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my own library
First line: There were only two kinds of people in our town.
Nothing new ever happens in Gatlin, South Carolina, which is why Ethan Wate is counting the days until he can leave. His mother has died, leaving his dad bereft and housebound. Ethan is worried about what will happen when he leaves for college, which is why he hides his box of college brochures under his bed – but he knows he has to get out. Then something new blows into town – new girl Lena Duchannes, and suddenly Ethan is finding less to hate about Gatlin.
The attraction is instant, almost spooky. As Ethan begins to spend time with Lena, he realizes she’s not only new – there’s something strange and different about her, something that goes way beyond Lena simply coming from outside Gatlin. Who – or what – is her strange, reclusive Uncle Macon? Why is Ethan’s housekeeper Amma so intent on keeping Lena away from him? And what about the dreams Ethan’s been having since long before Lena showed up – dreams in which Lena has a starring role?
I’ve had Beautiful Creatures sitting on my shelf since February – I bought it because of all the rave reviews I read around the book blogosphere. But then I let it sit on that shelf. I don’t know why I do that – I think part of it is the hype and wondering if it can possibly live up to my expectations, and another part is a feeling that many YA fantasies are starting to be very similar. Well, rest assured, this book is worth all of the hype and then some.
When the authors decided to combine Stohl’s love of the paranormal with Garcia’s passion for the South, they came up with the perfect premise. This is a moody, atmospheric book that is dripping with the attitudes of the Deep South, a place where the Civil War is still called the War of Northern Aggression and the South’s defeat is viewed as a “polite concession.” I loved the way the town of Gatlin is in itself a character of the book. The pages simply drip with the humid, magnolia-scented air and a type of Southern charm that hides deep suspicion of outsiders behind a surface of steely politeness.
The characters are fantastic: Amma, the superstitious housekeeper; the ancient Sisters Mercy, Prudence, and Grace; the creepy Macon with his stealthy dog, Boo Radley; Link, Ethan’s rock-star-wanna-be best friend; and the Angels – those super-popular carbon teenage prom queens who make Ethan and Lena’s time at school a living hell.
The end had a couple of unique twists – one that I suspected and one that hit me out of the blue – that I’m sure will resonate through the pages of the sequel, Beautiful Darkness, due out in October, just in time for Halloween. I will be first in line to buy my copy, and this time I won’t let it sit.