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Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Narrated by Kevin T. Collins and Eve Bianco, unabridged
Hachette Audio, 17 hours

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Kami Garcia is a teacher and reading specialist with an MA in education, and leads book groups for children and teenagers. Margaret Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. They both live in Los Angeles, California, with their families. Beautiful Creatures is their first novel.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jennifer McCann

It all begins with the dream -- a dream of a mysterious girl, a haunting tune and the smell of rosemary and lemons. Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate has always lived in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, where nothing has changed in the last fifty years. Gatlin's not even big enough for a Starbuck's or a McDonalds.

Ethan begins the new school year with the anticipation of nothing new -- same old friends, same old attitudes.  It's a typical small southern town where everyone knows everyone else's business and the usual prejudices reign.  But this year there is a change in the air.  This year there are a few surprises.  Spooky Mason Ravenwood, the town recluse, has a teenage niece that has just moved in and joined the student body.

Beautiful, enigmatic, gothic Lena Duchannes is everything the queens of the cheerleading squad are not.  And they hate her guts on sight.  Ethan, on the other hand, is inexplicably drawn to her.  Is she the girl he has been falling in love with in his dream?  But she is a total stranger and the object of derision by his friends.  Not to mention, she lives in that creepy, falling down plantation with her Uncle Ravenwood, who has been the subject of many a scary tale told to Gatlin's children over campfires.

After having had her fill of harassment from the "cool" kids, Lena ducks out of school and is followed by a curious Ethan.  On a rain-slicked country road, Ethan barely misses hitting Lena as she is walking home and offers her a ride. Ethan and Lena become inseparable but there is always a shadow hanging over their relationship.  Lena is awaiting her sixteenth birthday, on which a family curse will force her to make a decision that will change her life forever.  Ethan is desperate to save Lena from the curse or lose her forever -- the girl of his dreams and of his every waking moment.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have brought back the classic gothic novel for a new generation.  A doomed love affair, people and places that are not as they seem, flashbacks to another time period and a disaster to divert, but with the added twist of all the angst and prejudices of a typical small town high school.  Beautiful Creatures has the same brooding shadowy atmosphere of a novel like Daphne DuMauier's Rebecca, plus the humor of an intelligent, well-read  boy who tells it like he sees it.  

In an effort to add to the drama, Michele McGonigle offers original music to Garcia and Stohl's lyrics.  But without the sound of modern popular music it detracts from the legitimacy of the story.  It might be similar to  mature adults writing script for the "beach blanket" movies of the fifties.  It's a great idea for added dimension, but didn't quite make it.

Kevin T. Collins is no stranger to audio presentation. As the voice of Ethan, he gives a true and humorous vision of a small-town boy who knows the idiosyncrasies of his place in life and who is discovering the struggle for true love.  Collins also reads Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor and James Patterson's Against Medical Advice for Hachette Audio.  He has appeared on TV in The Guiding Light and Law & Order respectively, and is a big "voice" in the world of anime.

Collins is assisted in bringing Beautiful Creatures to life by Eve Bianco as the voice of Lena.  Bianco has performed in such plays as "Bedroom Farce," "An Artist's Life," and "The Dybbuk," by Tony Kushner. She's been seen in film and TV, as well as voicing commercials and audiobooks.

Beautiful Creatures is dark, funny, brooding, honest, mysterious, heartbreaking, and strangely touching. It has a driving pace that propels the listener to an explosive conclusion worthy of the listen.

Copyright © 2010 Jennifer McCann

A belly dancing, dyslexic wife and mother who in her spare time works as a library clerk. A full and rich life is lead through the books she listens to and/or reads. Dyslexics Untie!

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