Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
The bookclub that I belong to on Goodreads announced this was the first book we would be reading and I will admit I was not too thrilled. The movie comes out in just a few weeks, and I generally avoid reading books being turned into movies to hopefully avoid all the book-to-movie bandwagoners. Anyhow, I am glad that I picked this book up and maybe (!) even glad that it’s being made into a movie.
Some of the reviews/comments I had heard mentioned that they thought this book started out really slowly. I have to say, I feel that way about books but I did not feel that way at all with this one. Right from the beginning I was sucked into the story and wanted to see where it was going. I purposefully hadn’t read much about the plot, so the twists and turns kept me reading. While the main male character, Ethan, was a little too cheesy for me, I really enjoyed the female main character, Lena. While I can’t pretend I understand what it would be like to have my life decided for me the moment I turn 16, I could put myself in her shoes and feel the terrible pain she must have felt being treated the way she was by the people in her hateful little town.
All-in-all, this book contains a lot of the things I really enjoy in a good book: it’s set in a tiny town in the South, involves a bit of supernatural, features a smart female lead, and kept me guessing until the end. There was just the right amount of description and character development without making me want to skip over pages or paragraphs. While the middle might have been better if shortened up a chapter or two, overall I felt the pacing and writing style were spot-on. I will definitely be sharing this book with my students; I just hope they read the book after I talk about it instead of just going to see the movie.