Sunday, 26 July 2009

Review - Beautiful Creatures / Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Summary - 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.

Review - Beautiful Creatures is an involving family saga that weaves two family lines, the paranormal, the age old good versus evil predicament and the strength of love within its darkened folds. Though for me, the damage that familial deceit was paramount. Withholding of information, even though love, can be devastating on a small and grandiose scale.

It's dark, haunting and foreboding. Combine this with a detailed and comprehensive glance at a Southern town, it's eccentricities (the Sisters), the ignorant (Mrs Lincoln) and the deliciously divine (Macon). The length of this novel is much remarked upon, it has heft - substantial heft. Heft, that allows a very clear picture of a multitude of characters, small and large. That being said the length is also an issue, at times there feels to be extraneous matter that tempers the pacing. But who can really argue with a super sized supernatural-infused, Southern romance-driven family saga? (Say that ten times fast).

The characters are strikingly diverse - mortals and (spell)casters. While the starstruck teen lovers, Lena and Ethan, delve into their families histories, they also fall in love. There is definite sparkage and roadblocks to keep the reader turning the pages, though I would have liked to have seen more development of why they were attracted to one another outside the realm of paranormal activity. Lena's into Ethan because he's cute, he's genuinely nice (but not in a sucky way), open-minded, morally strong and offers her a chance as a "normal" teen experience. Ethan's attraction to Lena is a little less definite - she's gorgeous and different but personality wise I would have liked to see something more but this could be due to the story being from Ethan's perspective. But this is a relatively minor quibble, the characters on the whole are a fantastic bunch of loonies, eccentrics, louts and plain bizarros but every single one of them in grounded in truth.

Macon, the night dwelling, fiercely intelligent and loyal uncle, is among my favourite YA characters this year. He possesses a style and grace that reminds me strongly of Vincent Price and he leaves a indelible impression. Amma, Ethan's fiercest protector, is at complete odds to Lena's uncle, she's just plain moxie-filled awesomeness. Even Ethan's mother leaves a strong mark despite her lack of "activeness" in the novel's events. I could quite happily read a story on the adventures of Marian and Lila alone.

The conclusion was satisfactory, both as a standalone and as a possible first in a series. After six hundred pages of lead up, there was plenty of action, mystery and character involvement to wrap the novel up. I particularly enjoyed some of the minor characters having a role in proceedings.

It's an impressive debut effort and I can't wait to read what these two ladies come up with next. What I will take away more though, other than Ethan and Lena's love story, is a crush on the South. Though I will continue to shake my head at the concept of grits and Red Hots, the environment and atmosphere of this setting made a giant impact.

Published: December 1st 2009
Format: Paperback, 640 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown
Origin: USA
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Cat said...

I am certainly looking forward to the release of this book! I can't wait!

a flight of minds said...

Wow, wonderful review. Beautiful Creatures has been everywhere lately, and probably for good reason. Both the cover, the description, and the reviews I've read are striking and lovely. If the book's quirky and interesting, then I'm in. Thanks for the review!

- Alex

Kami Garcia said...

Adele, you liked it! I can't tell you how much this review means coming from you, who I consider a tough (but FAIR) reviewer. It was particularly cool to see what our first Aussie reader had to say. You need to come to the US, so we can take you to see the South & you will be eating Red Hots & grits.

I think my favorite lines, which I am going to quote you on forever more are:"deliciously divine" "with sparkage & roadblocks," and... "a super sized supernatural-infused, Southern romance-driven family saga."

I hope you don't mind if we link to your review & quote it endlessly. We just put up the Comi-Con post, but we will link to your review tomorrow. I know our publishers at Puffin, in the UK, will be dying to see what you have to say.

xxx Signing my real name, Kami.

mstohl said...

Adele, you do have mad skillz. I loved your review and more than that, your analysis. Your insights are thoughtful and it is fascinating to look at our own book through your eyes. Thank you for the beautiful and incredibly well-written review.

(And I'm so glad you got Macon. He's very special to us, and you're his kind of girl...with opinions... and a brain...)

xo Margie

prophecygirl said...

I can't wait to read this. You've made it sound completely amazing!

Michelle Zink said...

I LOVED this book!

Becca Fitzpatrick said...

Omigosh, I want this book so bad!

Michelle B. said...

This book has already been on my "want to read list" and has now been bumped up said list. :) Thank you for the awesome review!

Unknown said...

That was such as well written review, Adele! I received this book some time ago and had been putting off reading it until closer to the release date. Now I wish that release date was a lot sooner!

Adele said...

Thanks ladies, I am a little embarrassed by all your lovely comments. This was one of the harder reviews for me to write and I am glad people enjoyed it.

Macon IS deliciously divine in a creepy-licious way - he's fantastically fun :)

Daisy Whitney said...

How did I miss this review? Great job summing up this delicious read.