Lina Benich ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
We have previously reviewed Beautiful Chaos, and if you are an avid reader of young adult fiction or a follower of YA-turned-movies, you probably know about the Beautiful Creatures series. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Penned by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl from Little, Brown, and Company, Beautiful Creatures is the first of a quartet of books that will seem very familiar to many of the book series in the YA realm. The best way to describe this series is a gothic, reverse-gendered Twilight set in the Deep South with witches instead of vampires and werewolves. But written better, and a little less whiny.
The story opens with Ethan Wate, an average teenage boy in the mysterious Southern town of Gatlin. All he wants is to get out and away from this town, even though no one has ever really achieved this. His mother recently passed away and his father has shut himself in his study, only leaving to eat cereal at odd hours of night. This leaves the main raising of Ethan to the housekeeper Amma, a woman full of sass and voodoo. Ethan is on the basketball team with his best friend Link, who has a horrible band that Ethan pretends to like. The whole town is afraid of their own Boo Radley up at the Ravenwood Estate, and no one has ever seen the owner, Macon Ravenwood.
All of this quaint, small-town normality is shattered by Ethan’s horrible dreams about losing a girl he’s never met. But when that girl (Lena Duchannes) shows up in front of his car in the middle of a rainstorm, his life is turned upside down.
Suddenly Ethan is thrown into a world of supernatural powers and historical mysteries like: why can Ethan and Lena communicate telekinetically? And what is up with the locket with his initials on is found on Lena’s Uncle Macon’s property?
Beautiful Creatures is a great book for anyone who likes supernatural stories and stories with deep history. It is slow to get started, and the reader spends a significant section of the novel not quite sure what’s going on, while neither does the protagonist Ethan. In this way you really understand his frustration as neither Amma nor Macon are willing to explain what’s going on. While keeping the story’s secrets close to the belt, Garcia and Stohl still manage to leave enough bread crumbs to satisfy the reader and keep them guessing about where the story is going.
There are plenty of twists that I was not expecting. Some arrive precisely when you expect a nugget of information to come, while not what you were expecting; and other time the authors drop a revelation and skip joyfully away, allowing you to be completely shocked.
Ethan Wate somehow is the perfect protagonist for a romance-y, supernatural book series: a little dense at times, and veteran readers will certainly figure some things out before him, but loyal, quirky, and adventurous just the same. He falls into the Gothic world of “Casters” with an odd grace, and just like Ethan, readers will be captivated by the world he falls into.