Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2009. ISBN-10: 0316042676; ISBN-13: 978-0316042673. 563 p.

Plot Summary
Ethan Wate is counting down the days until he can leave the Southern town of Gatlin (two years and eight months). Lena Duchannes is the new girl in town, and she's unlike anyone Gatlin has ever seen. She's struggling to conceal her magic powers and the curse that's been on her family for generations: all Duchannes teens will either become Dark or Light on their sixteenth birthday. Ethan is drawn to Lena and wants to discover the connection between them. But this secret is too big for the two of them to handle. Will she be chosen by Light or Dark?

Critical Evaluation
Garcia and Stohl excel at creating a rich atmosphere of dread and tension as they draw the story of Lena's coming of age as a witch. The Southern setting makes an excellent background for issues of free will vs. fate, as well as how teens deal with the loss of loved family members. While Ethan's complete devotion to Lena may seem a bit unbelievable to more adult readers, it is refreshing to read a paranormal romance from the male perspective. Some plot ties remain open for resolution in the second book in the series. Recommended for Twilight fans looking for their next obsession. This title was a finalist for the ALA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award in 2010.

Reader’s Annotation
Lena Duchannes is a witch and will have to face a big choice on her sixteenth birthday. Can Lena and Ethan work together to break the curse before it's too late?

Author Information
Margaret studied American Literature at Amherst and Yale and earned a MA in English from Stanford.  She was a video game designer/writer for 10 years.  Kami grew up with four generations of Southern women outside of Washington, D.C. She has a MA in education and taught in the DC area.When discussing the influence the American South had on her writing, she said "The South seems like a place where magic and mystery really coexist, so everything we write springs from that profound sense of place. It helped that our families come from tiny towns and casserole counties, and we also spent time in and around Charleston where the book is set."

Kami is a Reading Specialist and continues to teach and lead book groups for children and teens.  She feels that "in some sense, all romances feel supernatural. They don’t feel natural—because each one is so special and unique. A supernatural romance takes those feelings and magnifies them, and allows us to explore them."

Kami and Margaret both live in the Los Angeles area.  More information about Kami and Margaret's work can be found at

Fantasy, paranormal romance.

Curriculum Ties
History: Civil War, Antebellum South
Geography: The American South

Booktalking Ideas
What if your girlfriend were a powerful witch?
Don't judge a book by its cover

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 8-12. Anyone old enough to enjoy Twilight is old enough to enjoy this book.

Challenge Issues

Challenge Defense Ideas
Get reviews from teens who have read it
Point to reviews (universally positive) and awards from ALA as criteria for inclusion in a collection.

I included this book because it was the teen book club pick for March at my local library. Since I volunteer with the teens, I read it so I could keep up with the book discussion.


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