563 pages | Published December 1st 2009 by Little, Brown and Company
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.
Review: 3 stars
Ethan Wate is a sixteen year old boy who lives in the small southern town of Gatlin. Gatlin is a seemingly typical close-knit small town where nothing ever really changes so when Lena Duchannes, niece of the town shut-in, enrolls in Gatlin’s High School it becomes a little too much for the small town to handle. Ethan however is drawn to the new girl who quickly shows him a side of Gatlin that he never imagined could exist.
I liked this story and I was pretty intrigued by the concept behind it but I feel like it was lacking in the execution. This is a whopping 563 pages yet the action doesn’t really get intense until page 500. That’s just annoying. The story is building up to Lena’s birthday when the shit will finally hit the fan but it is just so dragged out! It takes about 150 pages before Ethan is even let in on the secret, then about another 150 pages until they start looking for a substantial way to save Lena, then there’s the classic “we have to break up for your own safety but I love you” scene, and then a few more pages of looking for answers before we finally get to the birthday night. That’s a lot of build up with very little action in between. This made it really hard for me to connect and really engage with the story and characters.
At times it even felt like the author was trying to create these situations that are meant to be hints towards some bigger issue but the hint felt incomplete. It was very irritating and confusing. One moment in particular seriously irritates me – so Lena and Ethan are making out and Ethan has a heart attack or something and nearly dies. Luckily he’s healed and all’s well but then the chapter ends and they don’t ever discuss it again. I don’t know about everyone else but if my boyfriend nearly dies during a particularly hot make-out session I would be pretty concerned. Is any concern shown? NO! Not until the very end is the incident even thought about again.
I did really like the relationships in this book. All the relationships felt pretty real and genuine to me. The parental figures, Amma and Macon, were nontraditional voices of wisdom in Ethan and Lena’s lives who I adored. I liked Lena and Ethan as a couple, I thought they were pretty damn cute. In particular I liked how Ethan nicknamed her ‘L’, I’ve always felt like nicknames are a fun form of affection. And I really loved Link! Link is a fun character and turned out to be one of the best friends I’ve ever read about. Seriously, he has got Ethan’s back like no other.
I also liked that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl decided to write this book from a male’s point of view. I so rarely find a young adult book entirely written from a guys point of view and it was a nice switch up. However at times Ethan did tend to sound a little like a 13 year old girl rather than a 16 year old boy. I would have really enjoyed a little bit of Lena’s point of view in the book too, I think that really would have improved the flow and given the reader a better image of the Caster world which I really wanted to learn more about.
I really wanted to love this book! It’s been very popular, has a great cover and an interesting idea but overall I felt it didn’t live up to its potential. The story was too slow with too many unanswered questions which made it too difficult for me to really connect with it.