Friday, 5 April 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl **Review**

Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series: Beautiful Creatures #1
Pages: 576
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release date: 4th February 2010
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
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

When I first picked this book up, despite its popularity, and how many times it had been recommended to me, I didn't really know what it was about. I knew it was paranormal romance and there was some kind of magic involved, but that was the extent of my knowledge - I didn't even read the synopsis! Because of this, I didn't have particularly high expectations (despite the hype) - or any expectations at all, which was good, because what I ended up getting from this book blew me away!

When I began reading, I was immediately captivated by both the story and the narrative voice. The whole novel is told from Ethan's perspective, and for some reason, I hadn't expected that - I'm used to these kinds of books being told from a mortal female's perspective, and being about a supernatural guy - not the other way around. But it was really refreshing to hear things from the guy's point of view, and I can't think of a better character for this than Ethan!
I connected with him right away, when we first meet him at the beginning of the story, when he's in the kitchen with Amma (for all intents and purposes, his adoptive mother). Even though it's clear Amma is not to be disobeyed, the conversation between them is brilliant, and it's clear that they have a very close relationship at the beginning. This was also the moment that I fell for Amma - she has her moments where I didn't like what she was doing, but it was obvious that her heart was in the right place, and that she genuinely loves Ethan.
I liked Ethan more and more as the book went on, especially when Lena arrived. The county, Gatlin, that the book is set in, is an apparently small place, where nothing ever changes, and anyone new or different is shunned. Lena is definitely new and different. She drives her recluse uncle's hurse to school, and doesn't care about fitting in with the crowd (despite desperately wanting the 'normal' teenage life). Ethan is the only one to give her a chance. After a chance encounter (or perhaps not, as it turns out), in the rain, Ethan is sure Lena is the girl he's been dreaming of - the girl from his nightmares - she is his love before first sight, and he's determined to both get  to know her, and protect her, even when she tries to push him away.
I loved Lena and Ethan, even in the early stages of their relationship, while they were still 'just friends'. They're such different characters - a world apart - and yet they fit together like adjoining pieces of a jigsaw. The connection they have is very real and beautiful, and as it turns out, much stronger  than either of them thought was possible. I can't wait to see how their relationship will adapt and evolve in the next book.

There were plenty of other characters that I really liked, as well as Amma, Ethan and Lena. Not all of them were good characters, like Ridley, but she played her part in the story really well, adding danger and excitement, and she even managed to surprise me - her character was much deeper than it first appeared! I'm looking forward to seeing what will become of her in the sequel.
There were obviously other 'bad guys', but I can't mention them without giving too much away - you'll just have to get to know them yourself, if you haven't already!

Then, of course, there were the good characters, lik Link, Ethan's best friend, who sticks by him and Lena when no-one else will. And Lena's extended family, Aunt Del, Reece, Ryan, Larkin, and of course, the eccentric Macon Ravenwood. They were all brilliant, quirky and unique characters.
Obviously I can't mention every character in the book (as much as I'd like to, it would take far too long), but I can say that every character was fantastic in their own way, and they were all so well-written that they could almost have walked off the page (and maybe they will, if they find the right cast *wink*).

And talking of casts, that was a world that I really enjoyed learning about - it took the idea of witches and magic, and give it a totally unique spin. Every time we saw the casters, we learnt something new about their world, which both frightened and fascinated me. I'm desperate to learn more about them, and see more of the problems that Lena and Ethan will face now that this chapter of their story is over.

Like there are light casters and dark casters, there are also light-hearted parts of this book - wonderful moments where we really get to see the love between Ethan and Lena - but equally there are plenty of dark, sinister moments as well. At times, the book had a very gloomy, gothic feel to it, but don't get me wrong, I really liked that about the book - it was really atmospheric and captivating because of this, and I couldn't put the book down - I forever felt the need to know what would happen on the next page!

It's fairly obvious how I feel about this book. I was gripped from the first chapter, right through to the final page, and I've no doubt that will continue through the rest of the series.
An absolutely explosive beginning to what I'm sure will become one of my favourite series.
A must-read for any fan of fantasy or paranormal romance!


Sophie Louise said...

I LOVED Beautiful Creatures when I read it earlier this year. I'm reading the sequel right now. This is such a fantastic review! I'm glad you enjoyed it. One of my favourite parts was the rich, gothic idea and the world of the casters. How it is told from Ethan's POV is a favourite part for me-it's so refreshing and different. And Macon! I was so sad at the end!
-Sophie x

Brandy Graves said...

I loved this book when I read it a while back. I've read the first three and the fourth is sitting on my shelf, begging for me to finish the series. :)

Great review!

Jess Hearts Books! said...

I read Beautiful Creatures many years ago I loved it but didn't get around to the rest of the series for some reason. I really want to go back and re-read it now and then tackle the other books in this series! Great review Dani :)

caroline.taylor078 said...

I loved the first book but really struggled with the second, this could be because I read them too far apart though and so I had lost the plot a bit, that does happen with me, I am way too forgetful. I saw the Beautiful Creatures film last month and totally loved it, are you going to watch it?

EmA said...

Have you seen the movie? I really lurhved Beautiful Creatures and I'm super excited to read the last book. It's such a fun series!

Becca Lostinbooks said...

I bought this one in February but I haven't had time in my schedule to read it yet. I am looking forward to it though!

Pen to Paper said...

I see comments about the movie, and I'm afraid the answer is no, I shan't be seeing it. I saw the trailer for it when I was little way into the book and didn't think it looked up to scratch. I put it out on Facebook as a question to those who had both read the book and seen the movie, and I decided that I don't want to see it.
But I love the book, obviously, and will be reading the rest :)

Carole said...

Hi, I just noticed this review and wondered if you would like to link it in to the new monthly collection of books that people loved on Carole's Chatter. This is the link There are already quite a few books linked in that you might be interested in. It would be great if you came on over. Cheers

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