Beautiful Creatures Summary

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

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Beautiful Creatures Summary

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The first book in the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures explores themes of belief, love, and small-town life through the tale of two teenagers falling in love in a town haunted by mysterious magic. The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Ethan Wate, a teenage boy from Gatlin, a small town in South Carolina. Ethan describes the town as isolated and stuck in the past. The townspeople are unintelligent, tedious, and obsessed with the Civil War (which many of them still call the “War of Northern Aggression”), and the school still uses blackboards and a card catalog for the library.

Ethan’s mother was killed in an accident and, since her passing, Ethan’s father has been extremely withdrawn, rarely emerging from his office or engaging with Ethan, adding to the boy’s isolation and emotional upset. Ethan does have support, however, in the form of Amma, the housekeeper who cares deeply for Ethan and cooks for him and his father. Although she is a regular churchgoer, Amma also claims to be a seer – a person with supernatural insight – and fills the house with protective charms

Ethan repeatedly dreams about trying to catch a falling girl, only for her to slide out of his grip, scratching her wrist on his nails as she falls. When he wakes, he can smell rosemary and lemon and discovers a song titled “Sixteen Moons” on his iPod despite not having put it on there himself. Later, Ethan hears that a new girl named Lena is joining his class and learns that she is the niece of Macon Ravenwood, a strange, reclusive man who lives in a grand old plantation house. At school, Ethan suddenly hears “Sixteen Moons” and follows the sound to a music room where he finds Lena playing the song on the cello. He recognizes her as the girl he has dreamt about saving and is shocked to smell rosemary and lemon.

Sometime later, Ethan approaches Lena and explains that he has been dreaming about her. Lena dismisses this and denies sharing the dreams, even when Ethan points to the scratches on her wrist that he made in the dream. Over the next few days, however, Ethan manages to win Lena’s trust by offering support when the rest of their classmates bully her. Eventually, she admits that she has been having the same dreams. They grow increasingly close, begin to notice a strange powerful connection between them, and even develop the ability to communicate telepathically whenever they wish.

After he witnesses a number of mysterious, magical events at the Ravenwood plantation house, Lena tells Ethan that her entire family, including her, have magical abilities, referring to them as “Casters,” from their capacity to cast spells. Ethan struggles to believe this fantastical revelation but eventually manages to accept it and believe the unbelievable.

Later, a girl approaches Ethan in a shop and introduces herself as Lena’s cousin, Ridley, saying that she is there to take him to a family event. However, when they arrive at the Ravenwood house, it is clear that Ridley was not actually invited and is using Ethan as a way to gain entrance. Ridley becomes angry with her family and declares that Lena will be “Claimed” on her sixteenth birthday and will not have any say over whether she is Claimed “Light” or “Dark.” Ethan wants to defend Lena but finds he is unable to move. Just before he loses consciousness, he hears Lena tell Ridley to leave her “boyfriend” alone.

When Ethan wakes up in Lena’s bedroom, Lena explains that she would like to be with him but cannot because she may turn “Dark” and lose the ability to love. Ethan says that he will stand by her regardless and will try and save her from her fate. At first, Macon and Amma both disapprove of the two youngsters growing closer and it becomes apparent that they have some history and prior connection involving the magical happenings in the town. However, this changes when Lena is attacked by evil forces on Halloween. Lena’s family are trying to protect her without success but, after Lena telepathically calls to him, Ethan manages to free her from the enchantment. After this, Lena’s family recognize the strength of Ethan and Lena’s relationship.

Amma also appears to relax about the relationship and invites Lena to come for Thanksgiving at their home. While they are dining, everything freezes apart from Amma and Lena. Ethan watches, unable to move, as Amma explains her own magical background and claims that Lena’s mother is not dead, as he had believed, but is actually Dark and responsible for the attacks on Lena. Several days later, Ethan overhears Macon and Amma talking and learns that Macon is also Dark. The significance of this is revealed just before Lena’s sixteenth birthday, the time of her Claiming.

Lena’s whole family have gathered for her Claiming, including her mother, a Dark Caster named Serafine. She explains that Lena can actually choose whether she goes Dark or Light, and argues that it is more enjoyable to go to the Dark. However, Lena also discovers the consequences of her choice: if she chooses Dark then every Light member of her family will die, whereas if she chooses Light, every Dark member of her family, including her beloved uncle Macon, will die instead. She also learns that, regardless of her choice, as a Caster, she will not be able to have a physical relationship with a mortal like Ethan anyway, and is upset and confused.

On the night of the Claiming, Lena’s mother fatally stabs Ethan but Lena manages to bring him back to life. However, this magic turns out to bring about Macon’s death in his place. As the Claiming requires, Lena causes the moon to disappear and it seems that she will have to choose Light or Dark. However, as the novel ends it is revealed that the song “Sixteen Moons” on Ethan’s iPod has transformed into “Seventeen Moons,” implying that Lena may be able to continue blocking out the moon and deferring her choice, and setting up the novel’s sequels that continue the tale from this tense and ambiguous ending.