This is the first book in the paranormal YA series about the ancient witch family Caster, and the Southern town Gatlin with a long history of hidden secrets. I loved the magic system, the strong and fierce characters and the Southern Gothic vibes. I actually picked this book up after having watched the film adaptation that I highly enjoyed, so I had very high expectations, which luckily were more than met.
The two main characters are teenagers Ethan and Lena. Ethan has lived in small town Gatlin his entire life, but has never really fit in. After the death of his mother, Ethan’s father shuts himself away, and Ethan can think of nothing but leaving Gatlin and never returning. But the arrival of a new girl in town rocks his whole world. Lena is the niece to the mysterious Macon Ravenwood who lives in the ‘haunted’ manor outside town, but more than that she is the girl Ethan has been dreaming of in these weirds dreams where he sees a girl falling but never succeeds to catch her but wakes up with sheets covered in dirt and mud, the smell of rosemary and lemons, the song “Sixteen Moons” playing.
Ethan and Lena are immediately drawn to each other and soon it is revealed that Lena is a Caster witch who on her 16th birthday will either be claimed by the Light or the Dark based on her true nature. Hence the song Ethan has been hearing…
I really loved the different set-up with the old town history, the Gothic vibes and that the boy was the “week mortal” and the girl the fierce and not purely good witch. There were a lot of well developed and interesting characters, and a captivating magical world building.
Overall, it was such a captivating story with all secrets to be revealed, the threat of the spell claiming Lena, the conflicts and disapproval of Ethan’s and Lena’s relationship from both their families and the doubts of Lena’s true nature. I enjoyed this book immensely and can’t wait to continue the series!
4.5 magical stars rounding up to 5
Get your own copy:
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the paranormal YA series Beautiful Creatures (also called the Caster Chronicles) about Ethan and Lena trying to navigate magic, grief, linear curses, lifechanging decisions and teenage love in the Southern town Gatlin. I loved the first book in the series and its magic system, the strong and fierce characters and the Southern Gothic vibes. This book continued in the same style, but was unfortunately a bit slower and I just couldn’t root for Lena until the very end of it.
The story continued shortly after where the first book left, with Lena acting strange ever since Macon’s death and distancing herself from Ethan. A lot of this book felt like it was just waiting for things to happen; waiting for Lena to turn, waiting for a Curse to strike, and with Lena either whining about it, or being mean and cold to Ethan. Ethan’s feeling that “I knew I was in the moment before the thing happens – the thing that changes your life forever,” actually describes the book very well. It felt like we all knew something big was going to happen, but we were kept too long in the moment before it actually happened. The plot felt a bit unorganized, with a lot of chapters where almost nothing happened, and then a chapter where too much was going on at the same time and some major revelations, then followed by slow, uneventful chapters again. The new underground world of tunnels and all creatures living there was also a bit confusing and quite poorly explained. It took me almost 200 pages to feel invested in the story this time, but the ending sure made up for it, so I’m very glad I stuck with it through the slow first half!
I’m also very glad for the new character, and for Ethan being the same amazing character as in the first book. I really loved the new character Olivia (Liv) and her witt, intelligence and curiosity, and her and Ethan’s snarky banter. A lot of the other characters, like Amma and Link, were also given more depth and being even more wonderful than in the first book, making up for some of the things that were not as great in this one. I also really enjoyed Ethan finding out about his special skills, more about his mother and the reason for his and Lena’s connection, as well as the world building, Gothic vibes and the big part the city itself played.
“This town owned us, that was the good and the bad of it. It knew every inch of us, every sin, every secret, every scab. Which was why most people never bothered to leave, and why the ones who did never came back. Then I fell in love with a Caster girl. She showed me there was another world within the cracks of our uneven sidewalks. One that had been there all along, hidden in plain sight. Lena’s Gatlin was a place where things happened – impossible, supernatural, life-altering things.”
And the big surprise at the end was amazing! So even though it was very slow paced at the first half, and even though I was so annoyed with Lena for the most part, it eventually turned into a four star read making me more than excited to continue the series!
Get your own copy:
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez