There were no surprises in GatlinCounty.
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.
Ok, words cannot even express how much I love this book, but I'm going to give it a shot. It was so fresh and original for me that I completely devoured this book in 2 days the first time and 3 days the second time around. It's honestly that good. The story was always taking me by surprise and even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, it was rare that I was right. The writing itself is rich and completely wraps me up in this small town in the south. The descriptions, the accents, and the characters make me feel like I'm actually in Gatlin. It was never hard for me to envision in my head what I was reading. I was THERE. I LOVE that.
As for the characters, they don't disappoint. Lena is quirky and different and while she embraces her uniqueness to a point, there's still that 16 year old girl in her that wants to blend in and have the same experiences as all the other kids in school. And even though she's a Caster and not a Mortal, she's still struggling to find her place in the world around her, like everyone else. I love her hesitancy to put herself out there, because I'm just like that so I could completely relate - and I'm 25, not 16. And while I'm no poet - not by a long shot - I LOVED the scenes in her room where her thoughts would appear on the walls and mirror in poem form. It helped me understand her thoughts better, since the majority of the book is from Ethan's point of view.
And Ethan - oh Ethan - I love, love, LOVE him. He's the definition of "sweet boy next door" for me. He's a complete sweetheart and it was really fun to see a love story from the boy's point of view, which I don't find very often. He truly cares for Lena and for his family and anyone else in his life that he cares about. He struggles to stand up for what he thinks is right, like any 16 year old trying to find their voice, but he never struggles to see the wrongs in the antiquated traditions in his town. I love that through his relationship with Lena he is able to find himself more, and try to stand up to the prejudices in Gatlin. And his friendship with Link always made me smile - reminded me of my brothers and their friends. :)
The "minor" characters were also so well developed that they really didn't seem like minor characters at all. I love Amma and Uncle Macon even though sometimes they frustrated me to death, while the stunts that Mrs. Lincoln and Ridley pulled always surprised and infuriated me. Marian the Librarian was fantastic and I'm hoping I get to learn more about her in later books.
All in all, this was one of my favorite books of the year, and I've already got my little sister and two of my friends reading it as well. I have to share the awesomeness! I just started Beautiful Darkness and I can't wait to see what happens next!
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl