Home       About Me       Review Archive

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Series Review: Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2009-2012
Pages: 2,038
Source: Bought/Borrowed
Rating: 4 Stars


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.

In short: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl make an excellent team and have written a great series with the Caster Chronicles.
I have been doing my best to finish up all the series that I have on the go at the moment because at some point I realized that I had started and never finished a frightful number of series. I will often enjoy the first book in a series and will have every intention of seeing the series through, but then somehow I never get around to it. It's likely that I'll end up dropping a few of the series that just didn't "wow" me with the first book, but in the case of the Caster Chronicles, I knew I wanted to see it through to the end.

I absolutely adored Beautiful Creatures when I read it in late 2010, back when I was a newbie blogger. I do think my tastes have changed since then though and if I had read Beautiful Creatures now, as I did with the other three books in the series, I can't imagine I would be quite as enamoured with it as I have since fallen a bit out of love with paranormal YA. But it was with some amount of relief that I found that my tastes haven't changed hugely and I was able to delve back into the little world of Gatlin and the big world of the Casters, no problem.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl demonstrate with ease their adeptness in writing great characters and in setting the broody Gothic atmosphere of Gatlin. I am just in awe of their skills, particularly because I can't comprehend how anyone could share the authoring of a single POV book with someone else and still have such smooth passages and transitions that you would never think it wasn't written by one person only. My understanding is that they each write their own passages and then trade and edit each other's work as they go. They must work quite well together!

I am happy to report that I enjoyed the rest of the series after Beautiful Creatures, even if I was perhaps not as engaged in the story as I once was. The pacing can be a bit slow at times, but more patient readers will appreciate the attention to detail in the descriptions. The town of Gatlin is as much a character as it is the setting for the series and I absolutely love that about these books. I have also grown quite fond of the characters - particularly the side characters, whom are numerous and yet as richly developed and animated as Ethan and Lena, and whom also provide much needed moments of levity among the dark undertones of the series.

So it is with satisfaction that I can officially cross off a series from my lengthy series-to-be-finished list! And I'm all the more satisfied because this series is one that had a good conclusion, as well as an elaborate and well thought out journey on the route there. I may have fallen a bit out of love with the Caster Chronicles since I read Beautiful Creatures so long ago and I may not have been as engaged with the story as I once was, but I am happy that each subsequent book was a solid read and that I enjoyed them. I am so impressed with the work that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl do together that I would gladly read more from them again!

Author Links:
Kami Garcia Website
Kami Garcia Twitter
Kami Garcia Goodreads
Margaret Stohl Website
Margaret Stohl Twitter
Margaret Stohl Goodreads

32 comments :

  1. After seeing you making progress with the series on GR, I was hoping you'd review these on the blog so I could read your thoughts :) I own all of these but still haven't gotten into them. For some reason, I think I'd enjoy them, although probably not as much as I would have maybe 5 years ago. I'm really into how you described the atmosphere here and how you mentioned that the setting almost works as a character all it's own: books written that way are HUGELY appealing to me! And since you mention enjoying the characters AND side characters I just know I could get into the slower pace and enjoy myself with these stories. I'm glad you enjoyed the series and thanks for another wonderful review!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, pretty much. I am sure I would have devoured these and loved these if I had read them during the height of my paranormal YA craze 5 or so years ago, but since then, I guess I've just grown tired of the genre (Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the exception). But I did still very much enjoy myself reading the rest of the series anyway because I am ever so fond of some of the secondary characters! And it is for that reason that I'm looking forward to the spinoff starring Ethan's best friend, Link.

      Delete
  2. I tried reading Beautiful Creatures but it never grabbed my attention. I had to DNF it though it is really popular with my teens at the library. I guess I read it after having paranormal fatigue. I still haven't seen the movie either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can definitely see that. I don't think I would've picked up the series now if I hadn't read the first one year ago and I was committed to finishing the series. Paranormal just isn't something that draws my attention nowadays.

      Delete
  3. I know exactly what you mean about series, Aylee! I do the same thing. I read the first book, and have the best intentions of continuing with the series, and then I put it off for the longest time. I have no idea why!

    As for this series, I read Beautiful Creatures twice, and each time I was disappointed. I don't think this series is for me, but I can understand why it has such a large following, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! Great review! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a feeling I wasn't alone when it comes to series! I'm not sure why either except that maybe we've been burned one too many times by middle book syndrome, which makes us reluctant to pick up the sequel.

      Yes, admittedly I can see how this series would not work for everyone. I think I have quite a high tolerance for slow pacing in books so it doesn't bother me if the story is long-winded... as long as the characters are good.

      Delete
  4. I bought Beautiful Creatures on a whim and have yet to pick it up and actually read it (much like a lot of books that I get). However, after reading your review I am excited to begin the series. Hopefully the slowness of the novel will not bother me, it normally does not as long as the story is intriguing enough to make me want to continue on. Thanks for reviewing it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear! I'm the same way with the books I buy, unfortunately, but I'm hoping to change that. Hopefully the slow pacing won't get to you like it does to some people!

      Delete
  5. That's great that you still enjoyed the overall journey of this story. I am really bad with series as well. Nowadays, I rarely even start certain books because I know I won't be about to keep up with subsequent novels. I do need to try and get some series finished though, like you are doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, it seems like it's a universal thing. I was thinking that maybe I should stay away from series until all books are released and I can be sure that I have enough time to get through them, but I always get so impatient!

      Delete
  6. I seem to have read only the first book of so many series that I should probably try to finish some series during the summer. I haven't ever been tempted to read this series, but I'm glad you enjoyed it, Aylee, even if you weren't as engaged in the story as you once were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Summer is good for series reading, I think. As for the Caster Chronicles, I'm not sure I would recommend it to you... best for you to just keep to the other many series you have on the go :)

      Delete
  7. I'm so proud of you for going back and finishing up series that you'd left hanging, that's very commendable. I'm sort of wrapped up in all the new releases, which can totally overwhelm a blogger, leaving no time for anything else. I've always been curious about this particular series. My biggest angst about the series was the length of the books - yikes. Its definitely still on my TBR and since you enjoyed the entire series it will stay there as our reading tastes really seem to align. What other series books do you plan on finishing up? Do you have a list somewhere like maybe on goodreads? I'd be curious to see which ones you will be continuing on with and which ones are going to be axed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gina! I too get wrapped up in the new releases quite frequently... I just have to force myself to commit to some of the back releases that I never got around to from time to time.

      I don't have a list of series I plan to finish up, but now that you mention it, it would be good to have one on Goodreads, definitely. I have little to none organizational shelves on Goodreads, which is too bad because I really could be making better use of that space. As for series to finish, I have a few in mind, but very little set in stone - in most cases, I'm waiting to see how the end of the series gets reviewed by others to see if it's something I want to continue on with or not. There's nothing worse than an unsatisfying ending to a series!

      Delete
  8. Good job on finishing a series! I still haven't been able to do that, lol. I think this is why I prefer stand alones or duologies nowadays.

    But anyway, it's good to hear that the Beautiful Creatures series started out well and ended on a good note for you. I remember when I read BC a few years ago that I was extremely impressed with the gothic Southern feel that the authors were able to create. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, that's okay! It's perfectly fine to stick to standalones if that is what you prefer. And yes, I totally fell in love with the setting and the Gothic feel of it was perfect for the Caster world!

      Delete
  9. I should probably adopt a similar policy with reading and finishing series. My one saving grace is that I am reluctant to start many series because I don't necessarily want the commitment haha.
    I'm glad that you were able to enjoy this series! I've heard mixed reviews and it doesn't quite sound like the type of story that interests me, but that's wonderful that it read so seamlessly and it sounds like it really was evocative of Southern Gothic culture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am also reluctant to start many series at once. Better to complete one and pick up another than start up a ton of them! And yeah, I'm not really sure this is one that you would like and capture your interest. The writing and ambience is really great, but the series certainly isn't going to be for everyone.

      Delete
  10. I admit I never read it but I did see the movie - I kind of liked it, actually - and I'm glad you enjoyed the series as a whole in the end. I kind of usually just read the first book and never really pick up the rest, it's a flaw of mine.

    :D
    Happy Reading ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I didn't hate the movie either, like some people did. It wasn't AMAZING, but it worked just fine and was a good watch.

      Delete
  11. Glad it was a solid series! I enjoyed the first book, but gave up during the second (I had trouble getting into the sequel, but I should give it another shot sometime).

    "I am just in awe of their skills, particularly because I can't comprehend how anyone could share the authoring of a single POV book with someone else and still have such smooth passages and transitions that you would never think it wasn't written by one person only." - Agreed! It's crazy, how well they write together. It genuinely seems like one author wrote it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, you could give it another shot if you can find the time! I would say it's a good bet you will like the sequel if you enjoyed the first book, if maybe not quite as much. And yeah, I've always been curious about their writing process because it's not as if they're alternating chapters between them - it's pretty impressive!

      Delete
  12. Crossing off series is a great feeling :D I liked the movie. Wasn't blown away by it, but interested enough to give the books a shot. I have the first books standing on the shelves and it sounds like a fun series to just binge read. Nothing too special or amazing, but fun and easy nonetheless :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is! :D Now if only I could do it more often. That's cool that the movie was able to convince you to give the books a chance, even if it wasn't the most amazing movie ever. I hope you like the books even better!

      Delete
  13. I too loved the first one when I read it- it was when I first started blogging, or a little before, and it was a big book that captivated me, but the next year when I tried to read the sequel I just couldn't get into it. It felt like the plot was just being repeated, and I found the same (besides other issues) with the half of the movie I did watch. Still, I feel fond of the first book, even though the rest didn't work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's sad how you can fall out of love with a book series, but it can't be helped. I think you did the right thing with giving up on the series if you were no longer feeling it. At least you'll always have the first book!

      Delete
  14. Yay for finishing series! I haven't tried this one yet, but I'd like to :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay it's definitely worth a shot!

      Delete
  15. I don't remember where I stopped in this series. I think I've read the first and half of the second and I've yet to actually continue. I'm not sure if I liked this series or not but I remember feeling pretty invested with the first book. I guess it's time to finally finish the series once and for all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I would say if you felt invested with the first book, then you should give the other books a shot. If not, then it's not a big deal if you decide not to continue.

      Delete
  16. I read Beautiful Creatures a number of years back. I enjoyed it, but was maybe put off a little by how long it was. I was also a little put off that all of the books in the series are that long. I am not sure that I enjoyed the first book enough to keep going. Maybe... probably not. Haha. I am glad to see that you were able to power through them though. There is something SO satisfying about crossing a series off you list and marking it read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're all chunksters, that's for sure. And often way to long-winded and sometimes with unnecessary side plots... I would say if you weren't keen on the first book, then definitely stay away from the rest of the series because it's more of the same. And yeah, I was pleased especially to cross it off :)

      Delete