Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
ISBN: Hardcover: 978-0-316-04267-3
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Jacket Design: David Caplan
Hardcopy, Paperback, Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Audio CD, Audiobook
Page Count: 563
New York Times Best Seller
SCIBA award finalist
2009 Amazon Top 10 for Teens
NYPL Book for the Teen Age
ALA William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist 2010
YALSA Teen Top Ten Pick
Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate lives in Gatlin, S.C., with his father; his mother has passed away. He dislikes the town and wants to move. He has a recurring dream about falling through trees with a girl, whose face he can’t see. It troubles him because in the dream he loves the girl. When Ethan wakes, he finds a new song on his iPod. The song is “Sixteen Moons,” and the lyrics seem eerie. When he checks his iPod later, the song is missing.
When Ethan arrives at school, he hears about a new girl, Lena Duchannes. Lena wears long dresses and is not interested in popular pursuits like trying out for the cheerleading squad. She is ignored by most of the students.
Ethan hears Lena playing “Sixteen Moons” on her viola. He leaves school to clear his mind. He hears “Sixteen Moons” playing over his car radio. As Ethan drives, he nearly runs over Lena. When he stops, he realizes that Lena is the girl in his dreams. He gives her a ride home; this marks the start of their friendship.
Next day, the girls in class insult Lena’s uncle, Macon Ravenwood, and Lena’s anger shatters the glass in the windows. Ethan begins to hear Lena communicate with him telepathically. Unexplained things happen around her. Ethan touches an old locket that is sitting on the ground, and sees a vision of the past. Ethan keeps the locket with him and asks his great aunts about it. They tell him that the locket comes from the year when General Sherman burned every plantation in Gatlin except for Ravenwood. They identify the sets of initials carved into the locket as belonging to an ancestor of Lena’s, Genevieve Duchannes, and an ancestor of Ethan’s, Ethan Carter Wate.
When Lena misses school, Ethan goes to her house and meets her Uncle Macon. That night, Lena explains her family to Ethan. She says that all the people in her family are Spell Casters who have special powers. Despite this, Ethan’s attraction to Lena grows, and he asks her to go on a date with him.
Ethan meets Lena’s cousin Ridley, a persuasive older girl. Ridley invites Ethan to the Gathering, a dinner held by Lena’s extended family every year. Ridley reveals that when Lena turns sixteen, like all members of the Duchannes family, she will be claimed as either a Light or Dark Caster. Lena explains to Ethan that Ridley has the ability to persuade people to do anything. Lena is afraid that she will become as evil as Ridley, and be claimed as Dark on her birthday. Ethan assures her that won’t happen, and kisses Lena for the first time.
They go to the County Library to get information. At the library, they have a vision of Genevieve trying to bring Ethan Carter Wate back to life by using a magical text called the Book of Moons. However, the secret library opens only according to its own magical schedule, so Lena and Ethan must wait in order to search for the book.
On Halloween, Ethan has a vision that Lena is in trouble. He drives to Ravenwood; inside he finds Lena lying on a table. Only Ethan’s presence breaks the spell, and they conclude that Ethan’s love is the force that can protect Lena from the schemes of Sarafine.
The secret library opens on Halloween; Ethan and Lena go in. They discover the source of the curse. Genevieve used the Book of Moons to work magic. They think the book might have been buried with Genevieve. They go to Genevieve’s grave, dig up the book, and study it to see if they can keep Lena from becoming Dark.
The day of Lena’s sixteenth birthday, Ethan goes to Ravenwood. Lena is surprised when Ridley comes to the house with Ethan’s best friend, Link, and other students. Ridley has put a spell on the students so that they will treat Lena nicely. Lena and Ethan dance together and finally say that they love each other. Ethan has to leave when he hears that his father is standing on a balcony and appears ready to jump.
At Ravenwood, Sarafine tells Lena that she will be able to claim her own self for the Dark or Light at midnight, but Lena’s choice is a complicated one: If she chooses Dark, all the Light Casters in her family will die, but she would be able to have a physical relationship with Ethan. If she chooses Light, all the Dark Casters in her family will die, including Macon.
Ethan gathers the Light Casters and runs to find Lena in the woods, but instead meets Sarafine, who stabs him in the stomach. Midnight strikes, and Lena uses her power over nature to block out the moon at midnight, which keeps her from being claimed, either for Dark or Light. She sees Sarafine stab Ethan, so she decides to recite a spell from the Book of Moons to bring Ethan back to life. This works, but with the terrible consequence of the Book needing to take the life of Macon in order to save Ethan. In the days after Macon’s death, Ethan hears a new song, “Seventeen Moons” playing on his iPod, and he knows that the fight between Light and Dark Casters is not yet over.
Beautiful Creatures delivers with a combination of fantasy and romance. Deep in scenes, discussion abounds on whether scenes are necessary and critical to the story, or too long. Character development is not always in place. But this story seems to have enough fantasy and a solid enough romance to pull in teens that are neither romance fans nor fantasy lovers.
The magic of Hogwarts combined with Southern Gothic and young love make this tale a modern-day “Gone With the Wind”.
Information about the Author
Kami Garcia grew up near Washington D.C. She absorbed her interest of paranormal from these Southern roots and is very superstitious – she won’t sleep in a hotel room with a number 13 on the door. She has an MA in education. She taught in the D.C. area before moving to Los Angeles where she works as a teacher and reading specialist. She lives with her husband, son, daughter, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Margaret Stohl is a graduate of Amherst College, where she won the Knox Prize for English Literature, Margaret earned a MA in English from Stanford University, and completed classwork for a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. Margaret was a teaching assistant in Romantic Poetry at Stanford, and in Film Studies at Yale. She attended the Creative Writing Program of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where she was mentored by the Scottish poet George MacBeth.
Margaret has participated in the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, the Tribu dei Lettori in Rome, and the BAU Institute/Otranto Residency, as well as the LA Times Festival of Books, Romantic Times, and the Texas Book Festival. She was the Director of Programming for the 2011 YA Capitol Bookfest in Charleston, SC, and a founding member of the Smart Chicks tour.
Margaret has been featured in Amherst Reads, and is a contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books. She has been a member of the WGA West and PEN West. Margaret’s original screenplays have been optioned by Clasky-Csupo and Nickelodeon Movies for feature film.
Margaret loves traveling the world with her daughters, who are epee fencers, and living in Santa Monica with her husband, also a writer, and two bad beagles.
Fiction — Gothic Romance
What is a Gothic Novel?
Adding “environment” to your writing.
How is this tale a metaphor for the desires and fears teenagers face as they come of age and search for their true selves?
Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: Grades 7 and up