I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
I have to say that I loved this book from the first chapter. From the beginning the writers did a great job in pulling you right into the world that they created, andthere was this atmosphere of mystery and magic and some menace that literally oozed out of the pages. The book starts with a quote:
And this summed up the main story of the book really. Ethan lives in a small, southern town where everyone knows everyone, and no one's business is their own. His family and the families that populate the town have lived there for generations upon generations, and if they go back far enough, all of them are related in some way. Nothing ever changes. He hangs out with the same people everyday, goes to the same shops his parents went to, the same school his parents went to, and even sleeps in the same bed that generations of Wate men has slept in. The same families control everything in town, the same girls always win the beauty contests, and everyone falls into their predictable and predetermined roles. But Ethan wants out, as a reader you can feel his restlessness, frustration and claustrophobia. He is ready to leave his boring town for bigger and better things, and is counting down the days. But, at the moment we meet him...all he has are his books as means as escape...
But, despite its sameness, his town is not exactly normal, as the reader find out. The town is full of strange and quirky people, as many small towns are. One of the books many strengths is the humor and love in which it's treats these crazy cast of characters...even when they are not that likable. Ethan's family consists of his father, who never leaves his office and walks around like a ghost in his own house ever since Ethan's mom died the year before. He is basically taken care of by his family friend and town mother figure, Amma, a loud southern woman, who reads Tarot cards for the town residents, and leaves charms all over Ethan house to protect him from spirits. She is constantly threatening to take him over her lap and beat him, or stuffing full of good Southern food and pies...made from scratch as any self- respecting Southern woman would make it. He has three ancient aunts that have been married like ten times between them, who are always taking in stray rats and dogs and squirrels and each are either deaf or blind or both. And they are also the towns record keepers...they may be old...but their memory is good, so don't try to test it. The rest of the town consists of various members of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and Sisters of the Confederacy and the biggest event is the yearly Civil War battle reenactment. Or as Town people call it...the War of Northern Aggression. Then there is Macon Melchizedek Ravenwood AKA Old Man Ravenwood...the town hermit and rumored crazy serial babykiller. He has not left his house the entire time most people in town has been alive. In fact...no one can recall ever seeing him, and local legend is that Old Ravenwood Palntation is haunted so no one goes there. It is when Old Man Ravenwood's niece Lena moves in with him and joins Ethan school...that Gatlin becomes even more interesting than it has ever been.
From the start Ethan is drawn to Lena, and not only for normal teenage by reasons...though those are there. But because Ethan knows her right away. For months he had been having nightmares about a girl...who he loses and dies in his dream every night despite all that he does to save her...and Lena is that girl. Not only that...she seems to know him as well...and they can speak to each other in their minds. He is amazed and scared, but it does not stop him from trying to get to the bottom of the matter. Nothing ever happened in Gatlin, but it looked like something was happening now and he was the center of it. They are drawn to each other more and more, and that causes problems in Town. Lena is a stranger to them, and worse, she is Old Man Ravenwood's niece. She is not one of them, and outsider as far as the yare concerned. She is mercilessly tormented in school by the local popular girls who everyone follows like sheep. And it does not help that when she is cornered strange things happen. And because Ethan hangs out with her, he becomes an outcast as well. And even Amma is telling Ethan to stay away from her and gets all mysterious about it when questioned. Rather than being discouraged, Ethan takes it upon himself to find out what is going on, and in doing so...realizes that his town is not as boring and dull as he thought. In fact, Gatlin has more secrets and mysteries to hide than he ever thought possible. The more he uncovers, the more he realizes that some of the people in his town are practically strangers to him, despite his knowing them all his life. Lena is not the only one who was strange in his town. And many in town were working to keep something from him and Lena. He soon finds himself on a quest to save Lena not only from the local high school girls and their mothers who have targeted her for destruction, but some a mysterious force/magic that has rules over his town for generations.
This book was really very good. I loved all the characters. They were full of humor and mystery, I laughed many times while reading this...even when things were getting dark..because the characters are so great. I loved Ethan for his sense of humor and his bravery. I loved Lena's determination...though her whining annoyed me at times. But she is a 15 year old girl under a lot of stress....so I cut her some slack. And most of all I loved Amma, who reminded me so much of my grandmother and aunts and every other crazy, strong females I have met in my life. That is the strength of this book: the characters and the world created. My only complaint would be that some of the magic was confusing and had me lost.