Literature: The Caster Chronicles

The Caster Chronicles, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is a young adult fantasy series that began in 2009 and concluded in 2012, with four books and one short story.

The book introduces Ethan Wate, a teenage boy living in Gaitlin, a small town in the southern United States. Ethan cannot wait to graduate high school and get out of what he believes to be a boring small town where nothing ever happens. Then he meets Lena.

Lena Duchannes is a beautiful new girl with a dark secret. She is a member of a family of Casters, short for Spellcasters. Each child born into her family has special powers. Lena's family is unique among the Casters because they are cursed. Every girl in their family, on her sixteenth birthday, is Claimed by either Light or Dark. Lena's cousin and former best friend, Ridley, went Dark recently, and she is terrified that the same thing is going to happen to her.

She and Ethan also face the challenge of the impossibility of the relationship between a Mortal and a Caster. For the Mortal, every touch or kiss is an electric shock, and to "be together physically" would result in his death.

  1. Beautiful Creatures (2009)
  2. Beautiful Darkness (2010)
    • Dream Dark (2011, short story)
  3. Beautiful Chaos (2011)
  4. Beautiful Redemption (2012)
    • Dangerous Dreams (2013, short story)
  5. Dangerous Creatures (2014, first in the Ridley-focused spinoff trilogy)
  6. Dangerous Deception (2015)

A film adaptation of the first book was released in February 2013 by Warner Bros. . Trailers can be viewed here and here.

The books contain examples of:

  • Afterlife Antechamber: Featured in Beautiful Redemption, when Ethan is dead and trying to figure out how to come back to life. It doubles as a Mundane Afterlife where the houses of the departed are on their plots in the cemetery instead of in town, but their lives... well, their existences are otherwise a lot like in the realm of the living.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Exploited by John Breed in Beautiful Darkness to rope a grieving Lena into the plot.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Averted by Ethan, who couldn't want a cheerleader less.
  • Alpha Bitch: Savannah Snow, with Emily, Eden, and the other cheerleaders as her Girl Posse. They constantly harass new girl Lena for being so unlike the rest of them, to the point of reenacting the last scene in Carrie and staging a near-literal witch trial during Beautiful Creatures. And then again, when their English class covers The Crucible in Beautiful Chaos.
  • Back from the Dead: Two times, each with a character dying apparently for good in one book and returning at the end of the next: at the end of Beautiful Creatures, Macon is killed by the Book of Moons, then returned to the world of the living via Arclight in Beautiful Darkness; then, in Beautiful Chaos, it's the protagonist Ethan, and Beautiful Redemption revolves around his attempts to undo the events that led to this so he can come back to life.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Beautiful Creatures, Macon interrupts Lena's trial in the gymnasium and verbally destroys pretty much everyone who dares to try to defend their persecution of Lena.
  • Blank Book: In Beautiful Creatures, the book that Ethan's father was working on. It turned out to be a large pile of squiggles.
  • Blatant Lies: Sarafine's love for Lena. Though she did in fact love Lena and her father when she was born, it took major effort to do so in spite of her Dark nature, and once Abraham Ravenwood started to influence her it got to be too much. By the time of the books she no longer shows any signs of really loving her.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Lena cites this as a motive for abandoning Ethan in Beautiful Darkness, considering herself too dangerous and too tied up in the complex rules of the Caster world for Mortals to be safe around her.
  • Breakout Character: Ridley, who was popular enough to get her own spinoff (Dangerous Creatures).
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Macon, being an Incubus, is of the Dark, but chose to side with the Light.
    • Also, as John Breed stated, there is Light in the Dark and Dark in the Light. So, it could be assumed that Genevieve, Ridley and Macon could do good things and help other because they were not completely evil.
  • Dramatic Entrance: In Beautiful Creatures, Macon blasts open the doors to the gymnasium to interrupt Lena's trial, striding in with Marion on his arm and not a single drop of water on him despite the raging storm.
    Macon: I'm so sorry we are late. The weather is just treacherous out there tonight.
  • Evil Matriarch:
    • Lena's mother is Sarafine, who is considered one of the Darkest Casters ever and proves this by very briefly killing Ethan in Beautiful Creatures. Then she gets worse.
    • Also, the matriarch of the entire Duchannes/Ravenwood family, Genevieve. Though her becoming evil wasn't due to her having a malicious personality, but due to the spell she tried to use to save the love of her life being from the Book of Moons and therefore backfiring horribly.
  • Evil Is Sexy: In-universe, invoked and relentlessly exploited by Ridley, whose Dark Caster special ability is being a Siren who can convince (almost) anyone to do (almost) anything.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sarafine talks to Lena in a very motherly tone, but it's always about stuff like proudly taking credit for making Lena's life miserable in Beautiful Creatures or any of the other terrible things she's done, in between trying to convince Lena to abandon her loved ones.
  • Follow the Leader: For Twilight , being a gender-flip of its "angsty teenage girl falls in love with the hot new boy at her school who turns out to have a supernatural secret" plot.
  • Green Eyes: The Light Casters automatically have these. Especially appropriate as the trope page notes green eyes often denote magic-using characters.
  • Good Is Not Nice: John Breed after his Heel-Face Turn in Beautiful Chaos. In his short speech when he saves the day at the Far Keep, he even insults his own personality. Occasionally Macon and Amma get so adamant about protecting their respective teenagers, and so snarky about it, that they can fall into this too.
  • Hate Plague: The spell Ridley casts on everyone during Savannah Snow's party in Beautiful Chaos amounts to basically this, and it causes everyone in the party to start screaming at each other.
  • High Heel-Face Turn: Ridley as she starts spending more time around the main cast, especially Odd Couple love interest Link. Not that she doesn't stay claimed for Dark.
  • High School Dance: The Winter Formal in Beautiful Creatures. Ends up resembling a much tamer version of Stephen King's Carrie, but the mayhem's not actually Lena's doing.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In Beautiful Darkness. Ethan is in love with Lena, who he believes left him for John Breed, and is beginning to be attracted to Olivia. Link is also attracted to Olivia, but at the same time he's still pining for Ridley. Ridley and John are often seen together, so subtext could lead to interpretation of them as a couple. Lila Jane Evers' first love was Macon Ravenwood, but he had to leave her because he was afraid of hurting her, so she met Ethan's father. She's still enough in love with Macon to save him from dying. He never stopped loving her.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: The Caster community keeps to itself. This makes dating nearly impossible for Lena, once she starts becoming interested in the mortal Ethan.
  • Meat Puppet: Two very creepy examples- Sarafine inhabiting Mrs. Lincoln in Beautiful Creatures, and Mrs. English being possessed by the Lilum in Beautiful Chaos.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Macon Ravenwood hasn't left his manor (aboveground, at least) for as long as anyone seems to be able to remember. Naturally he develops a bizarre reputation in town, but turns out to be polite and thoughtful in person. He's also quite aware of this trope, going so far as to name his dog Boo Radley.
  • Noodle Incident: Since the first book, Link and Amma had been quarreling over something Link did in Ethan's basement when he was a kid, and Ethan never knew what it was, because Link refuses to tell anyone what bad thing he had done. In the end, we learn that he had put on a Union soldier's uniform.
  • Not So Different: In Beautiful Chaos, we learn that teenage Sarafine desperately wanted to be Light just like Lena did, and that she initially reacted to going Dark a lot like Lena probably would have: by panicking and vowing to resist it. She even succeeded for awhile.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: A Blood Incubus is basically the same thing as a vampire. A normal Incubus is similar, but it feeds off dreams and emotions instead of blood. Beautiful Darkness is very unclear about what a Succubus is, aside from being a female Incubus.
  • Out with a Bang: What happens to any Mortal who has — or tries to have — sex with a Caster or Incubus. It's doubtful how far anyone would actually get; just a heavy make-out session with Lena nearly kills Ethan in Beautiful Creatures. He would have died, had it not been for Ryan's intervention.
  • Sadistic Choice: One is offered to Lena near the climax of the first book. Choose the Light, and every Dark Caster in the family dies, never to harm anyone ever again — but Macon will die as well, and Lena will never be able to have a physical relationship with Ethan. Choose the Dark, and every Light Caster in the family dies — but Macon will survive, and Lena will be given the means to be together with Ethan physically and emotionally.
  • Signature Item Clue: In Beautiful Darkness, Ethan finds Lena's iconic and personalized charm necklace on a beach near the Great Barrier, and knows something must have happened to her and that she passed by that spot.
  • Southern Gothic: Not as horror-y as the classic model, but features a lot of the same atmosphere and elements, showing the Deep South as being full of things that aren't what they seem, that can't be explained, and that are often very dangerous.
  • Spirit Advisor: All the time, most notably Amma regularly asking her deceased ancestors the Greats for help/input. Other, more sporadic examples include Genevieve once or twice, Aunt Prue when she's in a coma in Beautiful Chaos, and Ethan's mother Lila, via the Shadowing Songs in the first three books and then in person in Beautiful Chaos.
  • Stalker Without A Crush: Macon to Ethan in the first book. He was sneaking into Ethan's room while Ethan slept to eat Ethan's dreams in order to "replenish" himself. Ethan is understandably freaked out when he realizes.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The Dark Casters automatically have these. Also falls into Uh-Oh Eyes.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Ethan's father Mitchell is the only person in his house who isn't in the know about all the supernatural goings-on in town.
  • Take a Third Option: Lena becoming both Light and Dark. A rare instance where there are major consequences attached to the third option that aren't handwaved away or luckily averted: it's described as her "having broken the world," complete with Biblical-style plagues and all the Casters' powers misfiring, and it's eventually revealed that the only solution is Ethan jumping off the water tower.
  • Title Drop: By Macon, for the first book.
    Macon: [Mortals] are such beautiful creatures.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Ridley crashes the Winter Formal and gets some revenge on the popular crowd for how they've treated Lena in Beautiful Darkness, the first of many times when this character teams up with the good guys on a per-mission basis for their own advantage and/or entertainment.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Gatlin. Obviously. Not a typical example, though, in that only about half the town is in on all the supernatural events that go on there.
  • Tragic Mistake: Genevieve's attempt to resurrect her beloved cursed her and her family for generations to come.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman / What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The main character, Ethan Wate, is a Wayward - a mortal whose destiny is essentially intertwined with that of a specific Caster. Waywards are also essentially a guide or compass for their Caster, and instinctively know where they need to go and what they need to do, especially when Casters are about as lost as the next person in the room. Needless to say, this only ever comes in handy when all other options have been exhausted. Comes with plenty of Lampshade Hanging that explicitly references Aquaman and his usually useless powers.

The film contains examples of:

  • Follow the Leader: The film was green-lit as an attempt to fill the void of "teen paranormal romance" films left behind once the last Twilight film was released.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Everyone in the film is doing a (bad) attempt at a Southern accent except for Jeremy Irons, who simply does a light English accent. Guess he was saving himself the embarrassment.
  • Pop-Star Composer: thenewno2, Dhanni Harrison's (son of George Harrison) band composed the score to film, which got acclaim even from people who didn't like the movie.
  • Trailers Always Lie: There was one shot of Ridley screaming in what looks like anger in the trailer (at 1:52, after Lena snarls "I want you outta here!"). Thing is, what actually happens is that Lena tells her to get out, and then Ridley screams in anger that she's so sick of everyone treating Lena like she's special, to which Lena coldly replies "I said, get away from my boyfriend, you witch." Ridley's face changes to surprise and fear, and then she goes flying.
  • World of Ham: Everybody in the film adaptation camps it up with great enthusiasm, with the champion of ham being Emma Thompson as Sarafine.

Alternative Title(s):

Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos