Book Spotlight: Beautiful Creatures

Brock Hayden, Writer

In a world that contains a lethal mix of magic, lollipops, and Southern hostilities hidden behind smiles as sweet as the apple pies, it seems almost mundane that a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance would spawn. However, that is just the case with the rather non-mundane Beautiful Creatures. Written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this book, recently turned into a film, is set in Gatlin, a town with roots deeply buried within America’s history and where the Civil War is sometimes referred to as the “War of Northern Aggression”. The books is told from the first-person viewpoint of Ethan Wate, who, like his recently deceased mother, does not share the town’s deep-set hatred of those who are different. This book is one of the few popular fantasy novels of the day written from a young man’s perspective. This is a refreshing change from the doting lamentations of the Bella Swans of the world and provides a nice contrast to other fantasy/romance novels currently available on the shelves for those who have become hooked on the genre.

After a strange new girl named Lena Duchannes comes to town and moves into the home of town shut-in Macon Ravenwood, tensions grow high in Mean Girls fashion and stereotypical high school drama oozes from every orifice of the student body. After being brutally taunted by the Regina Georges of Jackson High, the window in the English classroom near Lena shatters in an almost supernatural blast of wind. Eager to reach out to this interesting girl, who, coincidentally, he has been seeing in hyper-realistic dreams, complete with real dirt, water, and weather, Ethan eventually falls in love with the green-eyed Lena Duchannes. It turns out she’s one of the latest in a long line of Casters, this universe’s equivalent to a witch.

As is true of any good novel, some sort of good and evil must be present. Seeing as having magic powers can never seem to be simple, Lena’s family is cursed in that every Caster will be claimed by the Light or the Dark on the moon of their 16th birthday. Terrified of what her fate has in store for her and, knowing that Casters and mortals are not meant to be together, Lena faces a battle with her own heart out of fear that she will forget her humanity and, should she turn Dark, do something terrible to him. This story, chronicling the months leading up to Lena’s Claiming, is interwoven with slutty cousins, lovable voodoo practicing housekeepers, wise uncles, Civil War reenactments and zany aunts, all of which play a part in the tale’s to crescendo to a stunning climax where the powers of magic and the even stronger powers of love itself are put to the test. Precisely how much will one person sacrifice for love—even if it’s cursed?