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. (Goodreads)
Ethan lives in the little southern town of Gatlin. A town that you can’t help to want to get out of. In fact, the only people who don’t leave are either stuck or stupid. Or so Ethan’s dad says. Ethan is a regular kid, except that his mom died, his dad’s a hermit and that he was raised by a woman who leaved charms all over the house to protect them. But the strangest thing about Ethan is the dreams he has. Every night he dreams about a beautiful girl that Ethan is desperately trying to hold on to. Without ever having met her, Ethan falls in love with his dream girl, which is weird seeing as she doesn’t even exist, right? Wrong. Or so Ethan finds out when the girl that he’s been dreaming about walks into his school.
Her name is Lena Duchannes (Du-cain, it rhymes with rain), and she is Old Man Ravenwood’s niece. This doesn’t help her much with fitting in, seeing as her uncle is a shut in. Nobody has seen him or heard anything about him for years. Ethan has never even laid eyes on him. Because of this, Lena is not welcome in the Gatlin community. She’s being bullied and ridiculed by the popular girls and avoided by the rest of the schools population. All except for Ethan, who can’t stay away.
Every since Lena showed up, strange things started happening in Gatlin. Windows suddenly breaking, freak rainstorms and so forth. Soon, the town has decided that it is all Lena’s fault and go on a witch hunt in order to get her expelled from the High School, forcing her to move away. Problem is, they are not totally wrong. See, Lena is a Caster, just like everyone in her family, and her powers start to grow fast as the days to her 16th birthday grow closer. When Lena turns 16 on Februari 11th, she will be Claimed for either Light or Dark and nobody knows which way she’s going to go.
Besides that there’s a bit about visions, ghosts, voodoo and a magical library, an evil cousin and of course, the wicked witch of the South. It’s all very exciting.
I read this book after I saw a blogpost by someone, I can’t for the life of me remember who it was, about the movie coming out and them looking forward to it. I have to be honest, it took me a little bit to get into the book but when I did, I read it so fast you can call me the “Flash” of books.
I liked that Ethan was the protagonist instead of Lena, even though that might have been the more logical choice. I think the book might have been interesting from Lena’s point of view but I think that it would have become a 400+ page work of depression and fear. Reading the book from the point of view of the person from the sidelines is not something that I have encountered often, in fact, I think this may be the first time. It feels natural because Ethan doesn’t know what the hell is going on and neither do we. So, everything he discovers, we discover. We’re on even foot so to speak.
The world that the writers have created is very appealing to me. I wrote a post a while back on how I love it when a book has a feature that is different for each person or situation. For example the patronusses in HP, the different Arenas in the Hunger Games, the soulgazes in the Dresen Files even the vampire powers in Twilight. Which is why I absolutely loved that each Caster has a different power or ability. I immediately wanted to learn about every sort of Caster and other creatures that’s out there. According to an app on Facebook, I’m a Light Caster and an Empath, like Gramma in the book. Man, I wish.
The characters in the book are all very nicely written. I wasn’t irritated by any of the people in the town and I’m dead in love with Ridley. Just call me Link. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists at the end. However, I also sometimes thought that the story was moving kind of slowly, I wanted it to hurry along already.
The most annoying part of the book was the blatant rip-off of Stephen King’s Carrie. When Ethan takes Lena to the prom, the sweet innocent students of the High School drop a bucket of foam on her when she and Ethan are about to take a picture. I half expected Lena to go nuts and burn down the school. She didn’t, luckily because I’m pretty sure that would have been plagiarism, but Ridley did mess around with the electricity and made the sprinkles start working. All things that happen in Carrie. This would have been acceptable if Carrie would have been referenced in any way, acknowledging the likeness between the scenes, but it wasn’t. That scene was a big disappointment.
Overall it’s a very enchanting book. I know this because I felt the immediate need to buy all the other books in the series, too, even though I don’t have the money. But I did it anyway. I’m really looking forward to reading Beautiful Darkness. I’m really curious about what’s going to happen.