Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Summary from Goodreads:
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've been procrastinating writing this review - not because I didn't like the book -- I really really loved this book. I was just afraid that I would either not write what I meant or start gushing over it. I think that Beautiful Creatures really stands out among other books in this genre. I loved that I had just read To Kill a Mockingbird and I still had all the Southern Gothic imagery in my head. There are numerous references to TKAM throughout Beautiful Creatures -- Macon Ravenwood, the town recluse, is referred to as Gatlin's Boo Radley and later he is compared to Atticus Finch to name just two such references. And, my favorite TKAM reference, Macon names his dog Boo Radley, perhaps his way of laughing at his reputation with the citizens of Gatlin.
The atmosphere in the book is so southern -- I could almost feel the humidity while reading it. There is a Civil War storyline, of course, which ties directly into the modern story of Ethan and Lena. There is a bit of magic in addition to the mysterious Ravenwood family and their "abilities" and the amazing house Macon and Lena live in.
The story is fast-paced and I was completely caught up in the storyline of Ethan and Lena's growing relationship, their trying to cope with Lena's powers and all the ways the towns people found to blame Lena for everything. And then there is the issue of her family - this tale certainly makes for a page turner. I am pretty certain there is much more to be learned about Ethan's mother as well as possibly the librarian. I am anxiously awaiting my chance to read Beautiful Darkness.