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
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