This week, I am reviewing Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This book was published in 2009 and was made into a movie of the same name in 2013. The story follows a popular trend of romatic paranormal fiction, using its own unique spin on the story. Just a note before the jump, in the next few weeks, I will begin reading the books that I got at ALA. Some of those books will then be offered up as raffle prizes and sent on to the winner. So keep a look out for the raffles to begin. Now click for the full review!
Beautiful Creatures is a paranormal romance novel set in Gatlin, South Carolina. Our narrator, Ethan, has lived in Gatlin his whole life, while Lena is new in town. This is an interesting choice for the setting, because it introduces something that is missing from some other popular paranormal romance novels. Specifically, the setting of Gatlin, right in the heart of the Bible Belt, introduces a prejudice against magic that is often not present in paranormal novels of any type, not just romance. This extra element of tension caused by the prejudice of the townspeople is an interesting aspect to the story.
Thankfully, Beautiful Creatures avoids the love triangle that is currently so popular in YA romance stories, paranormal or not. The authors torment our main characters, Lena and Ethan through other means, such as the persecution they suffer from the people of Gatlin, and the disapproval of their relationship by their families. In addition to this tension, we have The Curse.
The Curse is something that was brought on Lena’s family over a century ago during the Civil War. On their sixteenth birthday, members of her family will be claimed either for the light or the dark, and they have no control over which way they will go. Lena is constantly terrified that she will be taken for the dark, and she sees signs everywhere that her claiming has begun long before her birthday arrives.
In addition to Lena and Ethan, there are several important characters in the story who influence the plot. These characters include Macon Ravenwood (Lena’s uncle), Amma (Ethan’s housekeeper) and Marian Ashcroft (the town librarian). The character development for all of the story worked well, and it helps the reader enter the story, leaving the real world behind for a while. The other major method of character development is Lena and Ethan’s Kelting ability. This ability allows them to speak telepathically, and shows their thoughts throughout the book. It’s an interesting narrative device, but one I could have lived without.
The climax of the story is one that could have been tightened up. In fact, that is my major complaint about this book in general. The paperback version of this book is nearly 600 pages long. That’s long for a YA novel. Really long. I suspect that the idea with the length was to give the story a slow southern feel. Unfortunately, it means the book meanders a bit. Some additional editing could probably have tightened this book up quite a bit. We didn’t need quite so many scenes showing how mean the townspeople were, and the climax is just a little bit all over the place. Overall though, the character development saves the story. I was rooting for Ethan and Lena by the end, and I wanted them to find a way through all the issues they were having to be together. This book is the first part of a quartet however, and so even with the climactic final battle, there is no true resolution.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the book, I would read it again, and I would recommend it to others. 4 out of 5 stars.