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Literature / The Caster Chronicles
aka: Beautiful Creatures

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The Caster Chronicles, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is a young adult fantasy series that began in 2009 and concluded in 2012.

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:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Ryan, the youngest of Lena's cousins and a healer who once saves Ethan's life after he touches Lena before being aware of the magic that keeps Casters and mortals from doing that. This trope is best exemplified by her line:
    Ryan: If you two do anything disgusting and you need me, I'll be downstairs.
  • 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.
    • Larkin and eventually Link also have some of this.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Averted by Ethan, who couldn't want a cheerleader less.
  • Alliterative Title:
    • Dream Dark
    • Dangerous Dreams
    • Dangerous Deception
  • Almighty Janitor: quite a few: Carlton Eaton, the bumbling local mailman, also delivers all the magical mail around town and knows about the casters. Amma is the Wate family’s housekeeper but also a powerful seer and one of the main magical authorities in Gatlin. The Keepers seem like just representatives of a Celestial Bureaucracy but can put anyone on trial and one [[is the final antagonist of the series]]. Thelma, the sisters nurse, know about the tunnels due to taking Prudence down there and also provides some minor help.

  • 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.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: In her first scene, Ridley gets Ethan to take her into the mansion by acting like she's the one picking up him and that they've both been invited.
  • 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.
    • In Beautiful Chaos John Breed, Macon, Leah, Liv, Lena, Link, Ethan and Ridley appear at Marian's trial at the Far Keep and successfully prevent her execution.
  • Big Bad: Abraham Ravenwood, the founder of the Ravenwood Blood Incubus line, is one of the entire series. He's the source of the majority of the problems Ethan and his friends face in the series, and was instrumental in the corruption of Sarafine, the Big Bad of Beautiful Creatures.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Ravenwoods and Duchannes, going all the way back to Abraham Ravenwood. The Dark and Light sides of the family have been at war against each other for almost a century.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In Beautiful Chaos. Though the Order was fixed, it took Ethan jumping off the water tower to his death to achieve it.
    • Also in Beautiful Creatures. Lena manages to bring Ethan back to life and post-pone her Claiming, but Macon is killed in the process.
  • 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.
    • Macon broke up with Lila Evers because he was afraid of physically hurting or killing her after his Transformation into an Incubus.
  • Breakout Character: Ridley, who was popular enough to get her own spinoff (Dangerous Creatures).
  • The Brute: Hunting Ravenwood.
  • Cain and Abel: Abraham Ravenwood killed his brother Jonah. Most of Macon and Hunting's meetings also are filled with the threat of this in the end, it's Macon who ends up killing Hunting.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Caster, Mortal, Incubus, Dark, Light, Claimed...
  • Caught in the Rain: Happens to Lena and Ethan several times. Justified because Lena has power over the rain and fire.
  • The Cheerleader: Savannah, Emily and their Girl Posse.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Arclight in Beautiful Darkness that is given to Ethan by Marian turns out to be very important later on in the book's plot. It helps guide Liv, Ethan, Link and Ridley during their quest to find the Great Barrier and also gives Ethan strange visions. In the end it's revealed that Macon was inside it all along.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Larkin's illusionist abilities. In the book They let him make it look like his gold eyes are green, so his family think he was claimed as light instead of dark. and in the movie where he undergoes Adaptational Heroism, it lets him impersonate Ethan to screw up Serafinne's plan..
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Beautiful Creatures received a manga adaptation entitled Beautiful Creatures: The Manga, in February 2013 shortly before The Film of the Book was released.
  • Cool Old Lady: Lena's grandmother, step-grandmother and Great-Aunt Twyla, Amma, and the Sisters.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Lena's cousin Larkin has a little of this which, given that he's a closet Dark Caster, isn't that surprising.
  • Cool Teacher: most of them subvert this, but bit characters Mrs. Spider and Coach Cross seem ok.
  • Curse: In Lena's family, Casters are Claimed by Light or Dark on their sixteenth birthdays. They have no choice, unlike most other Casters. This is because Lena's ancestor tried to revive her dead lover.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Leah Ravenwood is first seen at Macon's funeral at the beginning of Beautiful Darkness, but isn't properly introduced or even named until the gang reaches the Great Barrier near the end of the novel.
  • 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.
    • Larkin and Hunting. are apparently male versions.
  • Evil Old Folks: Abraham Ravenwood, unsurprisingly, as you can’t get much older than a guy who was around in the civil war. His son Silas also applies.
  • 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.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: a few of the unpopular kids eat lunch with Ethan, Link and Lena sometimes when the rest of the school is ostracizing him, but they aren’t quite friends.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Macon Ravenwood.
  • The Ghost: Macon's father Silas, while heavily involved in the background, and frequently mentioned, never appears in the original series.
    • Lena's fathers sisters, Adele and Constance Eades, never appear or get mentioned outside of a sketch of the family tree.
  • 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.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lena goes through one in Beautiful Darkness, a result of her guilt over accidentally killing her uncle on the night of her sixteenth birthday.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ethan jumps off the water tower at the end of Beautiful Chaos to fix the Order and prevent the end of the world. At the end of the next book Amma dies in his place so that Ethan can live out his own life with Lena on Earth.
  • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Two instances, for its two subseries:
    • The main books has "Beautiful [X]":
      • Beautiful Creatures
      • Beautiful Chaos
      • Beautiful Redemption
    • The Ridley-focused series has "Dangerous [X]", and then there's also Dangerous Dreams:
      • Dangerous Creatures
      • Dangerous Deception
    • The first books of its subseries are "[X] Creatures"
      • Beautiful Creatures
      • Dangerous Creatures
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: On their sixteenth birthday, in addition to learning their "true name", Casters are given the choice to turn dark or light. For the Ravenwood Family, however, there's a curse that removes the option for choice. Though not all Dark Casters turn evil, they are Anti Heroes at best and are associated with sociopathy and negativity, while Light Casters are warm, loving, and fundamentally good. Lena, in her efforts to not turn dark, ended up choosing both, gaining one eye of each Caster's color.
  • Light Is Good: The Light Casters, who are warm, nice, and fundamentally good.
  • Living Lie Detector: Lena's eldest cousin, Reece.
  • Living Prop: Lena's uncle Barclay, who is probably the least plot-relevant member of her family, and The Quiet One to boot.
  • The Lost Lenore: Ethan’s mom to Macon. Briefly Ethan. to Lena. before he’s resurrected. * 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.
  • Meaningful Appearance: The Light Casters automatically have green eyes. Especially appropriate as the trope page notes green eyes often denote magic-using characters.
  • Mirror Character: 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.
  • Missing Mom: Lena and Ethan both have one, albeit for different reasons.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: the authors describe Ridley's sex appeal in impressive detail, and the film takes this and runs with it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: the local truant officer not reporting Lena and Ethan when he catches them in the water tower and assumes they're a pair of Make-Out Kids.
  • Romantic False Lead: Liv for Ethan, and John Breed for Lena.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Ethan goes to the library Marian greats him with a literary quote which he always identifies incorrectly, (although he does get close).
  • 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.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Ethan's great-aunts The Sisters, very much, although they're good sources to consult about the history of Gatlin, and the second book reveals that Aunt Prue knows about the Casters.
  • 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 Gentleman: Macon.
  • 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.
  • Species-Specific Afterlife: As the mortal world and the caster world are relatively isolated, and people in the Otherworld wake up and live where they were laid to rest, the mortal and caster portions of the Otherworld are just as isolated, though not impossible to cross between.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": All dark creatures and dark casters are classified as lilum. However, there's one that's just The Lilum. In point of fact, all of her aliases are spelled with a The: The Demon Queen, The Endless River, The Wheel of Fate. Her true form is never seen, but what she must look like to have names like those.
  • 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.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Macon and Lila were in love long ago, but were forced to part when Macon became an Incubus because of the danger of a Mortal and an Incubus being together. They never stopped loving each other, though Lila managed to find a Second Love in Mitchell Wate.
  • Still Fighting the Civil War: Mr. Lee, Link’s parents, and Ethan's great-aunts.
  • 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 at the end of the second book. 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.
  • The Ferryman: Charlie the River Master in Beautiful Redemption is a somewhat laid-back version of this.
  • Thicker Than Water: Often cruelly subverted, as whenever someone turns Dark, even though the family knows it's not really their fault and still want to be there for them, they have to kick that child out, as demonstrated with Sarafine. and Ridley, after the last Duchannes child who was claimed dark (Lena'a great-aunt Althea) killed someone after being allowed to stay in the house.
    • This gets played straighter in Beautiful Redemption though, when the family takes back Ridley. although she had done a lot to earn it by then.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Villain: as revealed in flashbacks from Beautiful Chaos, Sarafine really did try to fight her nature for a while after being claimed for dark before Slowly Slipping Into Evil, and worked hard trying to be a good kid in the hopes of being claimed Light.
  • 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.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: John Eades stayed with Sarafine even when she turned dark, long enough for them to have Lena together. but her falling in with Abraham Ravenwood was too much for him.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Ridley uses an unknowing Ethan to sneak into Ravenwood Manor during the Gathering in Beautiful Creatures. Ethan is horrified when he realises what he'd accidentally let into Macon's house.
  • Wham Line:
    • The climax of Beautiful Creatures has a rapid chain of wham lines when Sarafine reveals that Lena can choose whether she'll become a light caster or a dark one, but whichever side she chooses, the half of her family aligned to the other side will die.
    Sarafine: Tonight you will not have to be Claimed, you will have to Claim yourself.
    • One in Beautiful Redemption reveals that Mercy and Grace also know about the Casters, and what has been happening lately. They reveal that they let Prudence think she was the only one who knew for all those decades as a joke, when in fact they found out before she did.
    Aunt Mercy: Well, what if it is? What're ya doin' around here now that Ethan's gone and passed on ta one world or another?.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: The blonde Ridley at first, although subverted with her two sisters.

The film contains examples of:

  • Misplaced-Names Poster: This poster has seven cast members listed, and only one of them matches up with their picture!
  • Composite Character: Amma Tradeau is a combination of novel characters Marian Ashcroft and the previously named Amma.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: The cinema marquee that's always spelled wrong at one point says "Interception".
  • 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