Nothing ever changes in Ethan’s small hometown. That is, nothing until the day the girl who’s been haunting his nightmares walks into the halls of his high school. Lena Duchannes is every bit as beautiful and tragic as she is in his dreams. As the two fall in love, the weight of the curse hanging over Lena threatens to tear their worlds apart. On the sixteenth moon of her sixteenth year, Lena will be chosen by light or darkness as payment for the sins of her ancestors. Nothing can stand in the way of her fate, not even Ethan’s love for her.
It’s a familiar setup: one normal high school student and one bearing some kind of supernatural power. What’s less common, though, is that Garcia frames her story around an ordinary hero. Ethan’s an average guy surrounded by supernatural power, but kept apart from it. Lena bears a supernatural gift as a Caster, someone with power to perform magic spells. Ethan’s family housekeeper also possesses some supernatural gifting in her ability to create charms and contact dead spirits.
I liked that Ethan had only his humanity, his wits and affections to guide him through this labyrinth of a story. Sometimes his self-righteousness bothered me, though. He’s got very little to say about his town or his friends that’s positive or endearing. I get that he’s kind of a diamond in the rough, but that song and dance got old after a while. Still, his actions made him respect-worthy and much more likeable as the story progressed.
Lena definitely worked as a complex, tragic heroine, but some of her emotional motivations confused me. Sometimes she made decisions that didn’t seem to make sense in light of the rest of her character or in light of her relationships with other characters. She doesn’t trust her uncle, yet the guy is pretty consistently showing up to save her from disaster. She refuses to ask him for help, but it was unclear why she wouldn’t do that. I felt like I was missing some explanation there. Maybe it’s revealed later in the series.
Beautiful Creatures had some plot twists that took me completely by surprise, so I enjoyed that unpredictability. I wished I liked the characters more. Lena’s uncle was a definite favorite of mine, as was Ethan’s housekeeper. I liked the tension in the backstory between them, too. If you like paranormal high school stories, this is definitely one to check out.
Some pretty intense kissing, but nothing beyond that.
Lena’s family are casters who use magic and have varying abilities. (Sort of witch versions of the X-men.) Some family members use their powers for evil.
Ethan’s housekeeper uses charms and contact with spirits to protect Ethan’s family. It’s got a very voodoo flare.
Lena and Ethan witness a Civil War skirmish in which a man is shot. Casters engage in a battle that causes injury to several people. It’s intense but not gory.