The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (Review: Beautiful Creatures by M. Stohl and K. Garcia)

Beautiful Creatures
M Stohl and K Garcia
Penguin 2010

"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".

(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I hummed and hawed over getting this book for quite a while. Despite it being highly recommended by several of my favourite authors and bloggers, I just didn't like the sound of it. In the end I picked it up at a train station book store as I had nothing to read and I am pleased that I did. Beautiful Creatures is just gorgeous. It's set in the deep south of America (somewhere that I think really seems to lend itself to paranormal storytelling as Lauren Kate's Fallen illustrated recently) and the town of Gatlin is as much a character as the people we meet on it's streets.

Ethan is a great narrator. I found it really refreshing to read this kind of paranormal romance from a guy's point of view – Ethan is entirely normal and thrust into a world that he had no idea existed. He takes it in his stride, but not so much so that his acceptance is unrealistic. It's also nice to see the authors subvert the image of the high school jock. Ethan is a popular kid on the high school basketball team. He dates cheerleaders and hangs out with the popular kids, but he also observes their behaviour and thinks about stuff pretty deeply – I loved that he was not unwilling to distance himself from them and stand up for others, regardless of the effects this would have on his own popularity. Lena is also fascinating – she has lived in her own little world for so long that she at first seems to float about in a bit of a bubble but we soon realise that she is all too aware of the world around her. Despite the curse that hangs over her (large and eccentric) family, she has a wicked sense of humour and at points had me laughing out loud.

Unlike some books of this ilk (boy/girl/paranormal/kissing etc), there is an extremely well written supporting cast. Stand out for me was Lena's Uncle Macon, who's southern gentleman dialect was an absolute joy to read and who could in one sentence be hilarious and the next terrifying. Honorary mention must go to Ethan's three elderly Aunts – if you read nothing else in Beautiful Creatures please, please, please, read the section where they adopt a baby squirrel. H-I-larious!  Am laughing just thinking about it.

All in all a really great read and the last line sent a genuine shiver down my spine! Bring on Beautiful Darkness – woo hoo!


Robby said…
I have this book, waiting for me to read, and I am so tempted to just pick it up right now and start reading.
Maybe I will. Great review. :]
Isabelle said…
I positively loved this book.
My librarian reccomended it to me and I'm so glad I did, because I never would have picked it up.
The story is so refreshing, one, it's told from a guy's perspective and not pathetic little teenage girl *cough cough Bella Swan* and for once; the guy is perfectly normal and the girl is the supernatural creature. Most paranormal romances are about super dark, handsome, mysterious angel/vampire/werewolf etc. falling in love with some awkward, average, mildly interesting girl in a small town with a tragic past. It's so overdone and pathetic.
Anyways, I loved this book so much, as well as Beautiful Darkness. Both are stunning books that should be read by anyone who things Twilight is good, because they will be blown away by how much better it is than Twilight.
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