Reading the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl just makes me wish I had a writer BFF that I could sit down and brainstorm with. This was a great collaboration of two minds, and I recently picked up the series again. I read the first book back in 2009 and am happy to have “finished” it now. (There will be another installment in the series, Beautiful Redemption, out in late October 2012). I also decided to by the ebook short story of what happens to Link, Dream Dark… But no spoilers for you!
Beautiful Creatures introduces us to Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes. Ethan’s only wish is to graduate high school and leave his boring town of Gatlin, South Carolina forever. That is, until he begins to dream of saving a beautiful girl with black hair and green eyes. So imagine his surprise when he runs into her in the halls of Jackson high. Her name is Lena and she’s a school outcast because of her strange habits and relation to “Old Man” Ravenwood–the town’s creepy recluse. Little do they know, their lives will be changed forever by their involvement in the struggle between the world of Dark and Light Casters. Lena learns that she will one day have to choose her own path–good or evil– and Ethan learns that he will have to put himself in Mortal danger if he is to save the girl he loves. Sleepy old Gatlin will never be the same again…
The two lovers take an unexpected turn for the worse in Beautiful Darkness. Lena begins to pull away from Ethan as her powers intensify. She has little hope that they could ever truly be together because he is a Mortal and she is a Caster–who for all intents and purposes seems like she’s going Dark. Ethan can’t even touch her for too long because her strange electricity burns his skin and stops his heart. His nagging fears are confirmed when she disappears from his mind (they can speak telepathically, btw) and starts hanging out with her Dark Caster cousin Ridley. A whole new level of betrayal is added when she is spotted hopping on the back of another guy’s Harley–John Breed–the….Something… Will Lena choose Darkness as her path, thus killing all of her Light family members? Or will she choose Light and kill all her Dark relatives, including her beloved cousin?
I thought that Beautiful Chaos was the culmination of the series–but thank God I was wrong! Because I just about screamed out loud at the ending! Lena has made her choice, for the better or worse and now both worlds, Caster and Mortal, are paying for it. The Wheel of Fate crushes us all. John Breed is still in the picture, as well as Liv–a British Keeper-in-Training. Ethan’s grandmother-figure Amma has made a deal with the Devil, so to speak, and everyone is scrambling to stop the chaos that may signify the end of the world. A sacrifice must be made, but who?
I really enjoyed this series. I loved the portrayal of a boring Southern town turned on it’s head by magical forces. I wish I could’ve said the same about the hill-billy town I’m from… Ethan and Lena’s relationship is a bit strange to me, because I don’t see how they can be together forever if just making out nearly kills him. To each his own, I guess. I really liked Liv, and could’ve seen a good relationship between her and Ethan forming if Lena left the picture forever. My all time favorite character was Ridley the Siren, though. I loved her badness and her tantrums. I would totally be her if I was in their world. She definitely kept things interesting. I really appreciated that Garcia & Stohl kept things very consistent throughout the novels, and each of them were equally good. Normally the first is my favorite, and things begin to taper off after that. The description of small town life was spot on, and I loved the cultural undertones and slang (that I recognized from my youth). I was definitely left craving some fried chicken and peach pie, that’s for sure!
There were some in between parts that did tend to drag a little, and I would notice my eyes were at the bottom of the page but I didn’t remember how I got there. That being said, there were plenty of bad guys to watch out for, including Lena’s mother Serafine. Not to mention Abraham, the most powerful Incubus. And Hunting and his Blood Pack. And let’s not forget the Jackson High Cheerleaders… I would also like to point out that it is COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY to buy the ebook of Link’s story. It’s like 3 chapters long and is mostly a preview of Beautiful Chaos. You don’t find anything out about Ethan’s best friend that you didn’t already know or that was monumental to the plot line. Skip it and save your money.
I would highly recommend this series to all fans of YA Paranormal Romance, or even just fans of stories that take place in the South. If you like a little dark magic mixed in with your collard greens, this story’s for you.
4 pieces of Amma’s fried chicken out of 5