Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, 2009
There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere. At least, that’s what I thought. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.
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.
I first saw this book a few years ago while browsing the young adult section of my local Barnes and Noble. I immediately put it on my wish list because the cover was gloomy and the title was vaguely interesting. Because this is how I pick a lot of the books that go on my wish list, and because of the sheer volume of books that are on my wish list, I didn’t actually get around to reading it. I finally picked it up because I saw the trailer for the cinematic release while watching the final installation of the Twilight Saga.
It was fantastic! I must applaud Ms. Garcia and Ms. Stohl for their excellent use of voice. I was not expecting to learn this story from a teenage boy’s perspective. And I found myself forgetting that the authors are females. The imagery was beautiful. I am from the Deep South, so maybe I had an advantage when picturing the scenery of Gatlin County. But the detail was wonderful, and I felt as if I had grown up there along with Ethan.
I am a sucker for witches and demons and vampires and werewolves. So this book had me hooked from the start. Anything paranormal and I’m your girl. Ethan lives a depressingly normal life. He is popular, plays basketball, and is of above average intelligence. Then he meets Lena, who is literally a force of nature. She is a beautiful girl, edgy because she is not from Gatlin, and shy because she is automatically shunned for the mere fact that she is not from Gatlin. They are drawn to one another and connected in a way that no one, from either of their families, understands.
Lena is a Caster. Not only is she a Caster, her Incubus uncle thinks that she will be a Natural. Which basically means the baddest of the bad kind of Caster. Different Casters have different abilities. And Naturals can pretty much do it all. Now Lena hasn’t been Claimed just yet, so during the whole book we are waiting to see if Lena will be Light or Dark. If she goes Dark she will be a Cataclyst, and she will not know how to love any more. Which is why Ethan tries to help her ensure she is Claimed by the Light. Being Claimed by the Light gives them more of a chance to stay together. And that is the end goal.
I definitely recommend this book. If you enjoy a good romance, or a good fantasy novel, this is for you. It was edge of my seat almost the whole way through. And the supporting characters are extremely fun. I can’t wait to see the cinematic interpretation! And I’m gobbling up the second installation of the series, Beautiful Darkness, right now!
The Whole Shebang: 4/5