Southbury Teen Review Blog

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Beautiful Creatures June 3, 2013

beautiful creatures moviePG-13, 124 minutes, Alcon Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment

The highly anticipated screen version of Beautiful Creatures, the best-selling novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, has arrived.  While I wanted to catch this one in the theater, I had to wait until the DVD was released.  Although not a box office smash, I was pleasantly surprised by this adaptation.

For those of you familiar with the book, the supernaturally star-crossed teens need no introduction.  Ethan Wate is played by the adorkably handsome Alden Ehrenreich.  The mysterious new girl in town is played by Alice Englert.  Lena Duchannes has come to stay with her uncle Macon Ravenwood, played brilliantly by the inimitable Jeremy Irons.  Lena and her family are Casters, or what we’d call witches.  On her not-so-sweet-sixteenth birthday Lena will be claimed by either the light or dark side of the family.  Dark cousin Ridley arrives to make sure Lena joins her on the dark side.  Can Lena choose light over dark?   Can Lena’s and Ethan’s love survive?  Or will a two hundred year old curse tear them apart for good?

If you’ve read the book, then you know the answers anyway!  A few changes to the plot are not a deterrent from enjoying this film.  My only complaints are the absence of Marion the librarian and Macon’s dog Boo Radley.  Other than that, this was a more than decent adaptation.  Standout performances from Eileen Atkins as Gramma, Viola Davis as Amma, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lincoln round out a fantastic cast.  A definite must-see for fans of the book.

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Beautiful Darkness April 29, 2013

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

BeautifulDarkness_GarciaandStohl

The second installment in the Caster Chronicles continues where the Beautiful Creatures left off.  Let’s do a little recap for those of you who may have forgotten.  Gatlin, South Carolina was turned upside down last year when beautiful Lena Duchannes came to town.  After being drawn to Ethan Wate, Lena lets down her guard and falls in love.  Fearful of her sixteenth birthday, Lena reveals her true self to Ethan.  She comes from the Ravenwood family, Casters with tremendous supernatural abilities.  On her birthday, Lena must claim herself, thus maturing in her powers.  The only catch is she must decide if she’s Light or Dark – basically good or evil.  After facing the wrath of Gatlin’s bible-thumping DAR, Lena and Ethan came face to face with Sarafine, Lena’s Dark Caster mother.  Lean was able to resist her urges and not claim herself at the sixteenth moon.  But all’s well that ends well, or so they say.

Beautiful Darkness opens with Ethan, recovered from the past events, attempting to return to normal life in Gatlin.  But that’s impossible now that he know what lurks in the Darkness.  Despondent over the death of her uncle, Macon Ravenwood, Lena falls into a spiral of darkness.  Ethan, the love of her life, is trying to keep her afloat and remind her she’s not evil.  As the seventeenth moon fast approaches, the Dark Casters in her family are targeting in on Lena.  Her cousin Ridley and mysterious newcomer John Breed seem to be luring her away.

Meanwhile, Ethan is having visions again.  Discovering the death of his mother may have more to do with the Casters than he realized, Ethan is determined to save Lena.  There is also a new girl in town.  Liv is interning with Marian the librarian and training to be a Keeper, like Ethan’s mother.  Amma, her ancestors, and a mischievous cat are there to assist Ethan in his quest.  Ever faithful sidekick, Link is on board to fight for Lena and their very lives.  Will Ethan’s love again be enough to save Lena from her family curse?  Not if Sarafine, Hunting and Blood Incubus Abraham Ravenwood have anything to say about it.

Wow!  I loved Beautiful Creatures, but I think Darkness is even better!  Still present are the lush descriptions and multifaceted characters, dripping with southern charm.  The plotline has thickened, giving us even more details to devour.  Garcia and Stohl have integrated a fantastic supernatural romance (not too mushy) with a Gothic tale of family bloodlines so thick you’ll keep referring to the Ravenwood family tree.  There’s no way to draw out the experience of reading this book because you simply can’t put it down.  On to the third…

 

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl February 12, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

Lena Duchannes is new in town and living with her uncle, resident hermit Macon Ravenwood. It’s not easy being accepted in small-minded Gatlin where daily life is dictated by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). Life-time resident, 16-year old Ethan Wate is drawn to the mysterious Lena. What is their connection? You have to go back 150 years to find out! And what is so different about the Ravenwoods? Lena’s 16th birthday is fast approaching, and things will never be the same.

Colorful extended-family members and a dog named Boo Radley add charm and depth. Homage to Anne Rice, Stephen King’s Carrie, and Harper Lee is appreciated by the eclectic reader.

First published in 2009, Beautiful Creatures is sure to generate a lot of hype as the long-awaited movie is about to be released.

Check this out in audio book or manga, gorgeously illustrated by Cassandra Jean.