Written by Guest Author Mindy Ashley
I picked up Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, after seeing the movie trailer. I’ve done this before – movies, trailers, and TV shows often inspire me to read the books they are based on (or to learn more about their respective subject matter). I didn’t know, however, that I would be so quickly captivated by the characters and their stories.
Set in Gatlin, a fictional and traditional small Southern town in South Carolina, Beautiful Creatures is the story of It is the story of the journey of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes through life, love, death, and redemption.
Ethan has lived in Gatlin his entire life, and dreams of the day he can leave. His one escape is reading, and he keeps a map on his bedroom wall of the places he has been through the pages of his books. Ethan seems like a normal teenager – he’s a member of the basketball team, and hangs out with the most popular kids in town. But it’s all a show; Ethan’s life has been turned upside down by the tragic death of his mother, and his father has all but disappeared into his writing. The two constants in his life are his best friend, Link, and Amma, the woman who helped raise him and his father before him.
Then the dreams start. Every night, Ethan dreams that he is trying desperately to save someone, a girl. Each night she slips through his fingers, pulled away by the swirling wind, and he awakens from each dream shaken and confused. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the song – a haunting melody that disappears from his iPod as suddenly as it appeared. Ethan tries to ignore the dreams and the song, and focus on the start of school. Another year closer to his escape from Gatlin and everything he doesn’t want to face.
Along comes Lena.
A strange girl, Lena lives with an eccentric Gatlin recluse, Macon Ravenwood. Driving an old hearse, Lena is nothing like the normal Gatlin girls. She dresses in long skirts and beat up shoes, and is never without her necklace of odd, random charms, or the notebook she is constantly writing in. But that’s not all – strange things seem to happen when Lena’s around; things that no one can explain.
For reasons he doesn’t understand, Ethan is drawn to Lean. He feels a connection to her that is made stronger when he hears his mysterious song floating through the hallways during class one day, and discovers that it was Lean playing it. The dreams, the ones that have been plaguing him become more clear and he realizes that Lena is the girl he tries, and fails, to save. As Ethan slowly gets Lena to open up to him, the connection deepens until soon they are inseparable. Even when physically apart, Ethan and Lean are able to communicate through their thoughts.
This connection, their love, leads them on a path that neither could have imagined. Ethan is pulled into a world he didn’t know existed, a world of Casters and magic. They are not alone on the journey – they are joined by Link, Amma, Ethan’s mother’s best friend Marian, the town librarian, Lena’s uncle Macon, her cousin Ridley, along with much of her extended family. Through it all, their love is tested and everyone is pushed beyond all imaginable limits.
For me, the mark of a truly good book or series is when I am sad to finish it. I don’t want the story to end or the characters to leave. My favorite books/series’ (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Jane Eyre to name a few) all share this quality. Now, I can add Beautiful Creatures to that list. After starting the first book, I soon bought the rest of the series so I could continue the story without interruption. As I finished the last page of the last book, Beautiful Redemption, my eyes filled with tears. Not only because of the perfect ending, but because I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave Ethan and Lena’s world or any of the people in it. And that is truly a beautiful thing.