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. WhenLena 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.
This is another one of those cases where watching the movie motivated me to read the book. I loved that this book didn’t have the typical paranormal creature (vampire, werewolf, etc…) and I was even more intrigued by the deep family and town history that played a huge role in the story, so needless to say I had to read this one. Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely, and I found the two main characters to be endearing, down-to-earth teenagers just trying to find their way. The pace of the book is pretty slow, but does move at a steady pace and since I’m a reader who appreciates it when historical elements are weaved into the story, I didn’t find the book to be boring or the tone monotonous at all.
The book is told almost entirely in the hero Ethan Wate’s POV, and from the beginning it’s known he’s plagued by dreams of a mysterious girl and an ominous, foreboding song that only he seems to hear. And in his small hometown of Gatlin where secrets become common knowledge and unspoken agreements become law, Ethan wants nothing more than to escape this stifling place and explore the world.
When he returns to his high school, he and everyone else is shocked to hear that there’s a new student, and the new kid is none other than Lena Duchannes, the niece of the town’s most abhorred resident and rumored ‘devil-worshipper.’ And even though he knows he shouldn’t, Ethan is hopelessly drawn to Lena and her to him. What ensues is a tentative friendship turned relationship where the romance is pure and heartfelt.
But what they soon learn about each other is that they really can’t be together without facing the dozens of obstacles in their way. Lena’s a Caster, a dignified term for witch, and on her 16th birthday will either be Claimed by the Light or the Dark based on her true nature. With Ethan being mortal and not knowing how to break the spell before Lena’s sixteen, conflict and danger are constantly threatening to separate the two, along with both of their families not approving of their relationship and of course, time.
This book was such a delight to read. I think this is one of the very few PNR books I’ve read where an action-packed plot isn’t the main thing driving the book. It’s very character-driven, and the pace is slower than expected but not to the point of boredom, at least not for me. There is sarcasm and dry humor sprinkled among the pages, and with some Civil War history and family dynamics in the background, this book engaged both my mind and my heart. The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is because it did take some time for the book to really grab me and wasn’t unputdownable, plus I feel like this first book only gave me a taste of what could be a magnificent PNR series. I have a feeling that the following books will be just as good or even better than this first one.
Beautiful Creatures is the first book in this YA paranormal series and while it’s designed to have the story continue on in the next few books, it technically can be read as a standalone. The ending is not a cliffhanger and concludes on a high note.
Rating: 4 stars!!