Publisher: Little Brown and Co.
Favorite character: Ethan Wate.
Favorite quote: “You are such beautiful creatures.” ~Macon Ravenwood.
All in all: Lovely & exciting.
Synopsis: 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. ~Goodreads.com
Please note: A little spoilery.
My Thoughts: I waited a long time to read this book but it was well worth it. Maybe it was the size that daunted me, but once I started reading it felt like the pages went by very fast. The writing is exquisite. Very rich and full of detail. The mysterious atmosphere so palpable I could feel it. I loved the style of the story from Ethan’s voice to the way the chapters ended, with a flair of mystery or longing.
The plot is intricate (at least to me). It isn’t hard to follow, but I just can’t imagine making this stuff up and creating the threads and secrets that led to the culmination. There was surprise after surprise and mystery after mystery to keep the action going and the story moving. There isn’t too much in this book that I could predict, which I appreciate.
Ethan is my favorite character. He is honest and sweet. He also took responsibility for himself. His revelation of exactly why he was drawn to Lena is heartfelt: “It was that she made me realize how much I was just like the rest of them, even if I pretended I wasn’t.” Also, he ‘fessed up to the fact that while he was never a bully, he always watched and never did anything to stop the cruel behavior until Lena came along. I also love his vulnerability regarding his mother who passed away and his father, who he seems to be losing to depression.
The cast of characters is great; mean classmates, overbearing parents, wacky relatives, loyal friends and family, a protective uncle and housekeeper and a loyal dog. They each have a role to play and are important to the overall plot.
I liked the contrasts between Ethan and Lena, but for all their differences, they make a perfect couple and I could feel that. This is one of the best romances I have read in a story. I love the sweetness of their relationship and the need. I love that it wasn’t over the top mushy. I love how they approach going to the dance, the issue of them being a couple and finally how they admit their deep feelings for each other. I’m totally rooting for them!
The only thing that surprised me was how prevalent magic was in this book. It’s like Harry Potter where another world exists within the real world. At times it did feel over the top but I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t love it because I did. I think I just didn’t expect it so when it came it was kind of jarring to me. (Actually, I found a lot of similarities between this book and HP, and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, but that’s a post for another day.)
I also like the theme of fate and choice in this book. “Nobody can decide what happens to you except you.” Ethan said. But even he had doubts at times. This is a very interesting plot thread in the story and I really couldn't tell if fate or choice would win.
I was satisfied with the ending. The main story completes itself, a few mysteries are solved, but there is plenty left to explore in the sequels and I'm sure even more surprises will be revealed.
There is a lot to grasp in this story and a lot to talk about. I think it would make a great read for a discussion group or book club. If you haven't gotten to this yet, I would recommend you try to fit it into your reading schedule.