Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: Fantasy YA
First Published: 2009
Page Count: 563
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 of the Caster Chronicles
An original young adult fantasy book full of Southern magic and mystery.
*Entertaining/ Multifaceted Plot
*Confusing Writing at Times
“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.” Ethan Wate is counting down the days until he can escape his small hometown of Gatlin, South Carolina. Nothing interesting ever seems to happen there, until Lena Duchannes, niece of the mysterious town recluse Macon Ravenwood, appears in town. She drives a hearse to their local high school, calls the rumored haunted house, Ravenwood Manor, home, and happens to be the girl who Ethan has been having recurring dreams about for the past couple of months. Ethan’s simple world will completely change as his love for this magical teenager grows, but each passing day leads them closer to her dreaded sixteenth birthday where he could lose her to darkness forever.
This book sat on my shelf for a long time because I was really not impressed with the film despite the impressive cast. Thank goodness once I started reading I realized the book was nothing like the movie. It’s a long read, but the plot is constantly evolving so I was fairly entertained from beginning to end. There are also many different pieces to the plot that keep the story moving. It has a bit of a Carrie feel to it with outcast Lena trying to navigate the mean girl universe of high school. There’s the romance between her and Ethan, as well as the mystery of what Lena is, who her family members are, and what will happen when she turns sixteen for the reader to navigate through as well. Maybe I was blinded by the shock of how much better the book was compared to the film, but I genuinely enjoyed the story of this book.
It was mostly smooth sailing for me when reading the book, but I did have a few moments of confusion when trying to interpret what was going on in a few scenes. The authors didn’t seem to do a very good job of describing what exactly was going on in the scenes for me to be able to follow along and visualize what was happening. I had to go back many times and reread a paragraph or two so that I could try to grasp what was going on. As an example, Lena and Ethan are sharing an intimate moment together and then suddenly Lena’s young cousin Ryan is in the room with them. Huh? I figured it out later, but the scene was really strange to me at the time, no matter how many times I reread the paragraphs.
The Caster Chronicles is not a particularly long series and seeing as I enjoyed this first book so much I definitely think I’ll try out book two in the future. The reading experience of this book compared to other young adult books felt very original because you are not seeing the story from the perspective of the character that happens to have a supernatural lifestyle. It’s also unusual to have that perspective come from a guy; I’m so used to these young adult books having a female leading me through the story. And even their romance didn’t feel like it was running the show. The mystery of a centuries old curse, magic, and some mean girl drama are more than enough to keep the reader entertained.
*Film Adaptations: (Starring Emma Thompson 2013)