Beautiful Creatures: Book 1 Book Poster Image

Beautiful Creatures: Book 1



Dreamy, lyrical supernatural Southern romance.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers get a feel for Southern Gothic literature. 

Positive messages

Strong message of family loyalty and love; Lena is unavoidably different but wants to fit in and be normal; Ethan is tired of peer pressure and conformity and accepts Lena as she is. His best friends accept their romance. Lena and Ethan rely on their family and family friends and are not dissappointed. However, this southern small town is portrayed as rigid and small- minded.

Positive role models

Like every teen, Ethan feels alone and "different" -- turns out he is special, but his courage is not altruistic as it centers on his new love. He does take risks for his father and his Amma, however, and shows a strong loyalty to his friends. Many strong older women populate this small town, both for good and evil, but definitely appear as the stronger sex.


Supernatural battles with violent storms and danger; a witch possesses a woman; an incubus feeds off human dreams; flashbacks to a Civil War battle where houses full of families were burned; some main characters die in the final battle.


Scenes of long, dreamy kissing between Lena and Ethan; a teen boy is literally under the spell of an older, "hot" witch, but readers see nothing but kissing between them. References made to kids hooking up.


Mild use of "hell" and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An older girl posing as a teen smokes; teens drink at a party; adults drink but are not portrayed drunk.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Authors:Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:January 1, 2010
Number of pages:563
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

This review of Beautiful Creatures: Book 1 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Wicked Lovely Poster Image
    Modern fairy tale fascinates; some iffy content.
  • Wings Poster Image
    Romantic fairy fantasy, milder than Twilight.
  • Lock and Key Poster Image
    Angsty novel tackles mature themes in thoughtful way.

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byCityofbonesfan019 January 11, 2011

Good for tweens and up

I really enjoyed this book. I love fantasy and it delivered. It does get violent toward the end, but the book sends the message that you shouldn't be afraid to be who you are.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... December 16, 2010

*important please read*

i honestly believe this is a book for 15& up, its not for younger teens, it has "bad" parts that kids do not need to learn about just yet, thats qhat the parents are for, they need to teach you that, not a book.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byAthena Keene May 6, 2011

Great but dont bother w/ the sequel

I really liked this book. I thought it was great up to the very end when it was ruined w/ a sequal. Trust me folk- dont bothreading it- (the sequal that is)
What other families should know
Great messages