I read the novel Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. In this article I report my impressions.
Reading period: August 2020; review: August/September 2020
In the sleepy town of Gatlin, South Carolina, Ethan Wate starts the last one high school year, in a storm of negative feelings that pile on each other. His mother, Lila, is died in an accident a few months earlier. His father, destroyed by the loss of his beloved, isolated himself in his study, interacting very little with his boy. Of Ethan's family remains his housekeeper Amma, who replaced the mother figure, with love, but also with severity. And his night is distressed by a recurring nightmare, in which he tries to hold back a girl, whose face he cannot see, who sinks into darkness.
But the life of the town is shaken by the arrival in the school of Lena Duchannes. A fifteen-year-old granddaughter of Macon Rawenhood. This is a a wealthy man, despised by his fellow citizens, who carries out an extremely reserved life, who returns the contempt of his fellow citizens.
Lena is immediately harassed by the other students of the school, who, like their parents, judge strangers haughtily, considering their own town and its history, at the center of the world.
In this provincial environment, Ethan is fascinated by Lena and takes her parties trying to defend her. To check how she feels, he visits her at uncle's house, that no one dares to frequent. And when he does, he discovers a girl used to being marginalized, desperate for the possibility to be normal, who is able to communicate with thought and who when she loses control, she makes it happen strange things, like breaking the windows of the classroom where there is a lesson. And that she fearfully awaits her 16th birthday in five months. In short: Lena is a sorceress, like all her family and that of uncle Macon.
Moreover, while talking to her he realizes that they share the same nightmare. And he ends up finding in his hand a cameo that projects them in events that took place many years before, in those places, during the American Civil War.
The fact that Amma forbids him to go out with Lena, and orders him to bury the cameo, does not stop Ethan, who continues to investigate the link between his own family and Lena's family. Thus he discovers that during the Civil War, an his ancestor, with his own name, enlisted not to defend the Confederation, but in an attempt to make itself acceptable to the family of his beloved: Genevieve Duchannes, Lena's ancestor. Nauseated by war, Ethan's ancestor deserted to find Genevieve during the looting of the country by Union forces. This is the episode that Ethan and Lena live thanks to the cameo: during the looting, Ethan's ancestor is killed, and Genevieve uses a book of magic formulas to try to bring him back to life. The attempt is only successful for a few minutes, but the toll the book takes is very heavy. Since that time the inclination to use magic for good or evil of all members of the family, will be decided by the book, at the age of 16. Thus depriving them of the freedom to choose according to one's desire.
Thus Lena and Ethan begin to search for how to break the curse which the girl is going to meet. They ask for help from Marian Ashcroft, director of the village library, friend of Ethan's mother. It turns out she is also the keeper of Lunae Libri, the library of the area's magicians.
The Lunae Libri owes its name to The Book of Moons, the book that cursed the Duchannes and it has been missing for over a century. The guys think that, being the author of the curse, the book also has a way to revoke it.
Ethan realizes that the missing book must be related to Genevieve, and adventurously manages to retrieve it from her grave. And while the bond between Ethan and Lena becomes more and more serious, unfortunately Lena's commitment to interpret the many spells in the book does not lead to the result of identifying the one capable of revoke the curse.
Thus we arrive at the feared day of Lena's 16th birthday. While the inhabitants of Gatlin meticulously reconstruct the battle of the Civil War occurred a century earlier in their countryside, at the same time another battle begins, prepared just as meticulously by Sarafine, Lena's mother, to make sure her daughter embraces the forces of evil.
Lena is lured out of her uncle's house, where she can receive protection, through the excuse of a surprise birthday party. At the same time Ethan is forced to leave Lena to help his father, who he is about to be driven to suicide by Lena's cousin.
When Ethan finally manages to reach Lena again, is blocked by Sarafine. And in the subsequent quarrel between Lena, Sarafine and Macon, intervened to defend Lena, the true scope of the dispute appears. Lena's belonging to one of the parties will result in complete destruction of the other. Also the love that binds Lena to Ethan cannot be realized: wizards and humans cannot physically unite without humans dying.
Macon is attacked and mauled by his brother Hunting, ally of Sarafine, and this causes Lena to react, stop her mother with a barrier of fire and frees Ethan to look for help. He joins Lena's relatives who manage to revive Macon. But Ethan in turn is stabbed to death by Sarafine.
Lena, desperate, annihilates Sarafine and Hunting, and turns to the Book of Moons to revive Ethan. But this time the curse is broken by Macon, who sacrifices himself during the spell, replacing Ethan and dying in its place.
It is difficult for me to write the impressions I have received from reading this book.
On one hand it has intrigued me the representation of a social context regarding to live in a provincial town in South Carolina. A context extremely closed. Even narrow-minded. Self-referencing from a point of view historian and as community. To the point of disguising and presenting in a way distorted the events of the past. Events that seem to justify current social relations, and the aggressive exclusion of whoever it is considered, from any point of view, a stranger.
To this obvious context, there is the existence of a world of beings completely different from ordinary mortals: a sort of wizards, divided into factions that reflect the divide between good and evil. They live their world looking down at humans, feeling excluded and, at the same time, excluding them in turn.
A beautiful picture of two different species that are mutually exclusive, one consciously and the other unconsciously, and for this reason they have no chance to mutual understanding and dialogue.
A gloomy picture, which is just positively affected by the love relationship between the two protagonists of the novel. A relationship which at the end of the story turns out to be hopeless: a mortal and a sorceress can only be spiritually in love; their physical relationship would kill the human being.
So far there are the elements for a compelling, albeit simple, story. But I'm sorry to say I perceive it too simple, and often sickening.
The various characters have excessively marked characters. Just as it is the love relationship between Ethan and Lena that is incredibly sweet and excessive. The first unable to live without her. The second fought between the belief that allowing someone to approach her would mean decreeing his suffering, and the feelings she has for Ethan. It seems to be in a Liala's romance novel.
These perplexities prevent me from classifying it as a book I recommend to read.
I would like to make a comment about the film Beautiful Creatures, co-produced by Summit Entertainment and Alcom Entertinement, distributed by Netflix.
I liked its photography. And the plot turned out to be pleasant, as long as you want to see a movie for pure relaxation. With the plot of the book from which the film is made, in practice there is only a distant relationship.