There is a girl.
Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head ... green eyes, black hair.
There is a curse.
On the sixteenth moon, of the sixteenth year, the Book will take what it’s been promised.
And no one can stop it.
In the end, there is a grave.
Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and, on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided.
Ethan never even saw it coming.
Ethan Wate lives in Gatlin (a small town in the American south that’s obsessed with the Civil War) with his widowed father (who stays in his office working on his next novel) and Amma (the housekeeper who’s raised him). Despite being on the school basketball team, Ethan wants to get away but recently he’s been having strange dreams about a beautiful girl. When Lena Duchannes starts at Ethan’s school, he realises that she’s the girl he’s been dreaming about. Beautiful and different, Ethan finds himself falling in love with her. But Lena has a secret – one that binds her and Ethan together and one that could be the death of them both.
Garcia and Stohl’s YA paranormal romance is unusual in that it’s told from the teenage boy’s point of view. Ethan is an engaging narrator, able to give details on the history of the small town that he’s grown up in and with an amusing perspective on such groups as the DAR. His desperation to get away is also a recurring theme and as he tells his story, it is easy to understand why. However there are times when Ethan is a little too perfect as a narrator – particularly his willingness to engage with the strange Lena and accept the strange situation he finds himself in.
In contrast, Lena is a blander character despite the revelations that slowly come about both her, her abilities and her family. Her otherworldliness is a little overblown, e.g. her love of poetry and desperate desire to fit in. The romance that develops between the two is very much predicated on their shared dreams and hints that they were together in a past life – so much so that at times I wondered what they saw in each other beyond that.
There is a strong Gothic feel throughout the book, which I personally enjoyed and Garcia and Stohl have done well in creating a believable Southern town full of eccentricity and hidden darkness, which gives the story some much needed substance beyond the romance. Saying this though, the book is overwritten and particularly repetitive when it comes to Ethan and Lena wondering whether they are going out with each other.
The novel ends with a set up for a sequel and there was enough here for me to be interested in finding out what happens next to the characters, so I will be reading on.
An unusual YA paranormal romance that’s told from a boy’s perspective, there’s a strong Gothic feel to this novel and I particularly enjoyed the depiction of a small Southern town with its quirky characters and dark underbelly. However, Ethan comes across as a little too perfect while Lena is a little too bland and the book is overwritten at times, particularly with regard to repetition. Saying that, there was enough here to hold my interest and I will be reading on.
Cross-posted to bookish, books, bookworming, fantasywithbite, urbanfantasyfan and yalitlovers.