By Daniela Garcia
Web Content Contributor
*KTSW consists of and respects varying opinions within its staff. Opinion articles do not reflect the opinion of KTSW as a whole.
Growing up I’ve always been drawn to the magical essence of stories. It was inevitable that one day I would come across a story that seems very reflective of my own personal writing work. However, the introduction to the dark series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl differs in many ways from my own and others out on the YA market shelf.
What had originally caught my attention towards reading the book was as I mentioned the fact that this story sounded very familiar to something I’ve been working on myself. Of course, I was devastated to find myself comparing this beautiful story to my own but after completing the first installment of the Caster Chronicles I came to find the story of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes is original in and of itself.
The story starts off a bit slow with the main character, Ethan Wate, introducing the story from his perspective. He lives in a tiny town in the swampy south with darkening dreams of a girl he can’t seem to save from an unknown ultimate doom. A little into the story, Lena Ducchanes arrives at Jackson High of Gatlin town and instantly becomes the tremulous talk of the town. As students of Jackson High that have already found their own niche begin to speculate over who the new girl is, they soon come to find that the pretty new girl that inevitably stands out from the rest of the class is actually Macon Ravenwood’s niece -the town shut-in living in a large plantation home.
Ethan notices something strange about this girl, something that draws him to her. She seems so familiar, but his reputation as Jackson High basketball team member, ex-boyfriend of one of the only two popular girls in town, and good boy Ethan Wate who lost his mother in an accident only a year ago, all changes quickly. Ethan can’t explain why he feels like he knows Lena nor why they end up meeting and realizing they share the same dark dream. Not to mention the strange telepathic exchanges they begin to have.
Soon, Ethan comes to find that Lena possesses supernatural powers because she is a Caster (like a witch but a different term) and after experiencing some strange moments of encounter with Lena, it doesn’t take long before a relationship between the two develops.
This is a dangerous relationship because Lena is a Caster and with her birthday approaching, her powers expand as the Claiming nears. When Lena turns sixteen, she will be claimed under the moonlight as Light or Dark. It turns out, the numbers on Lena’s hand when she first stepped into Ethan’s class are the number of days counting down until Lena is Claimed, until Lena turns.
Because of the grand possibility of Lena turning Dark (evil and powerful) as her cousin Ridley recently has^, she makes the attempt to cut Ethan off to protect him. But it’s inevitable for them to interfere in each other’s paths as reflected in the locket they find in Greenbrier. A locket that at the simultaneous touch of Ethan and Lena, allows them to have visions of a terrible fate of both of their ancestors, Genevieve Duchannes and Ethan Wate.
The mystery of the locket slowly starts to unravel as both Ethan and Lena dig deeper to figure out why her uncle Macon( a Caster as well) and Ethan’s caretaker Amma (a fortuneteller voodoo practitioner herself) are preventing their relationship if their ancestors had clearly traveled the same amorous path and if Ethan keeps her safe somehow. Macon and Amma are hiding something else but it doesn’t stop the young couple to delve deep into their past and unravel the secrets of Gatlin, secrets that were once unimaginable to Ethan himself before Lena came along.
There’s someone after Lena, and Ethan will do whatever he can to protect her, even if she turns Dark.
What I really enjoyed from this book was the personal connection I had simply by reading the synopsis on the gorgeous metallic purple jacket with a slightly raised silver lettering that swirled in all the right places. Needless to say, the artwork of the cover is beautiful and appropriate for the mood of the novel. Beautiful and dark.
It was also interesting to me to encounter a book about a girl who has special powers but told from the perspective of the boy who slowly but surely falls in love with her. Mind you, the authors are two women tackling the aspect of a sixteen year old teenage boy. It was a nice approach and a little different than most contemporary novels dealing with anti-heroes.
Another thing that I thought to be an interesting mix to the story was the southern setting of the story. But as the story progresses, it all makes sense. The murky and swampy area truly highlight the overlapping naturalness of the world that Ethan involves himself in while the geographical location ties in the dark history of the Confederate army and the Great Burning of Gatlin that of course Lena & Ethan’s ancestors were around for.
There were a few redundancies and contradictions I picked up on but they were minor details that were perhaps an innocent editor’s mistake or requires picking up the second installment of the series to understand However, there is enough of a main plot and subplot to overlook these small details.
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl did a beautiful job in captivating the reader into this ominous but stunningly interesting world of magic as well as young love. I’d recommend this series to any curious reader of the supernatural.