A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this love story between a mortal and a Caster (or witch) has plenty in common with Twilight. The romance is more dreamy than steamy (just lots of passionate kissing), the town is small with narrow-minded inhabitants, and there are some evil forces at work. Violence is mostly relegated to the final battle where some major characters die.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In a small southern town among Civil War reenactments and misty plantations, 16-year-old Ethan literally meets the girl of his dreams when Lena moves in with the local recluse. A psychic connection speeds up their romance. Once Ethan accepts the truth that Lena's family are Casters (but not witches!) they discover more secrets must be revealed before Lena turns 16 and is Claimed by supernatural forces. Lena is ostracized at school, and soon in town, and a broken window leads to charges of mental illness and expulsion. Ethan tries to give Lena some normal teen experiences, but her birthday looms, estranged relatives arrive, and a battle of supernatural proportions ensues across graveyards and Civil War battle sites. Plenty of plots are left undone for the next saga in this gothic teen romance.
Is it any good?
Ethan and his male friends are well written, and if the adult characters seem unoriginal, they are at least reliable and likable. There are many stock characters, both teen mean girls and powerful, intense older women alike, but the sweet romance, dark danger, and supernatural battles that sweep across a well-romanticized background of Civil War deaths and teen parties will entrance teen readers and maybe as many adults as the Twilight Saga did. Ethan and Lena both write poetry -- and it all sounds like poetry by teens -- and song lyrics also play a large part in the story. Lena and Ethan are both somewhat tragic characters, innocent, upright, and well-intentioned.
The book opens with some lovely, lyrical writing and it's hard to believe it was written by two authors collaborating. There were a few too many new characters thrown into the final battle, but readers can look for them in the sequel. Teen readers will likely appreciate the length of this gothic, Southern epic and be very happy to return to the sultry small town of Gatlin as soon as possible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the magical hierarchy created in this book. The "Casters" seem to include witches, demons, incubi, fallen angels ... are they all opposed to mortals? Is there a theme of good against evil? Are all mortals portrayed as good? Are all the Casters evil?
What about Amma? She reads Tarot cards and seems to believe in some type of magic, with her spells and charms. Would it be considered black magic?
The Civil War looms large in the town of Gatlin. Are they proud of their role in the Civil War? How is this mentality portrayed as acceptable?
What makes Ethan so special to Lena?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.