By: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Additional Books in the Series: Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Dream Dark, Beautiful Redemption
Edition: Hardcover, 563 pages | Published: December 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown and Co.
Obtained: Own | Recommend: Borrow/Buy Used
Categories: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural, Witches, Urban Fantasy
Read From: September 20th - October 3rd, 2012
Rating: 3 Stars
What the Back of the Book Says: There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
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.
My Thoughts: I've had this book on my To Be Read list since I purchased it way back in December 2009 when it was first released. With the release date for the upcoming Beautiful Creatures movie getting closer, I decided it was time to finally read it.
I was sucked into the story pretty quickly, and must admit this is the first male-narrated story I've read in quite awhile. Ethan Wate is a decent enough character, one who wants nothing more than to get out of the tiny town he's lived in his whole life - and who's ancestry goes back to Civil War days. The entire southern town is stuck in a vicious cycle of reliving history but Ethan's so over it. So just when he is at his lowest, in steps Lena Duchannes, niece to the town recluse, Macon Ravenwood, and the girl who jump starts his heart.
The world building is impressive, and I was easily able to visualize Gatlin, with it's rich history and vibrant characters. I found the high school characters, namely Savannah, Emily, Eden, and the basketball team to be vicious, nasty people who taunted and tortured poor Lena. They were nasty, vindictive and conniving and not in the entertaining, Gossip Girl way. Each time I would read a scene taking place in the halls of Jackson High I would cringe. It's sad that these close-knit small towns treat outsiders, but I can see that happening. I grew up in a very small town, my graduating class being under one hundred students, it wasn't often that we had a new kid in town, and it may have taken them a bit to feel out the students and choose where they best fit, they were never outwardly shunned. To see this happening in a book was shocking and left me hoping that it was exaggerated for the story's sake - and that this doesn't happen in real life!
I devoured the book rather quickly, however the last hundred pages were slow for me. I felt that there were too many secrets kept that were continuously brought up in almost a taunting way to the reader - like, 'ha ha we know what's going to happen and we are going to keep telling you that secrets are being kept but you can't know them! - it didn't make me dislike the story at all, but it did drive me nuts occasionally. Also, Lena's family is voluminous in number, each with their own special powers which got to be a little confusing. They were almost lost on me, trying to keep track of who was who and could do what, etc. Again, it didn't pull from the overall enjoyment of the story, but did feel jumbled at some parts.
The magical aspect and the different types of magic (Light vs Dark; and what each family member/Caster can do) is very intriguing and I was fully engaged in learning more. I'm hoping to get more individualized and detailed pictures of what Casters can do in the remaining books to come in the series.
There weren't very many surprises that blew me away, but there was enough suspense and small twists to keep me fully engaged from page one through the end. I absolutely adore Lena, and look forward to continuing her story in the second book in the series (which I've already gotten from the library!) since there are lots of loose ends left for her (and Ethan... and Gatlin, for that matter) to deal with, which I'm very curious to see how they tie up.