Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Reads: A Review of Beautiful Creatures by Christine Locke

There are a few spoilers here, but, hey, a movie's been made, and I guess it won't much matter....

You know what's wonderful about this novel--other than the fact that it's far, far better than the movie in almost every respect?  What's wonderful about this story's LONG.  Nice and comfy and settle-into-a-big chair and know there's some still left for tomorrow long.  In a reading world (and viewing world, for that matter) where relationships with character and setting last hours rather than days, getting to carry a paperback around long enough to wear the cover edges a bit becomes a rare joy.

The Southern stereotypes in the movie were a drag for me, but even more so for my teenaged daughters who would never, never quote their "mama" to friends.  Yet, stereotypes are not as strong in the book, or, at least, the stereotypes are drawn here with more compassion and a great deal of love for what is good in this place.  And, like Ethan, in the end we do not want to leave--or, at least, I didn't.

But before I imply I hated the movie, I need to say that watching Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson square off in a sort-of acting showdown was an absolute delight.  Emma Thompson's portrayal of a Southern church lady possessed by the darkest witch of them all...ahh, it was like good-for-you dark chocolate with red, red wine...decadent bliss.

Having said all this, what's left to say is that this is the Southern gothic I am coming to love: honest but endearing, more Harper Lee than Flannery O'Connor.  And, yet, there's that traditional gothic supernatural thing that a few of us find natural in a Southern setting.  Rambling houses--more than one, and a library, too--, ghosts and dreams and real things that can't--just can't--be real anywhere else, anywhere but here.

Two other traits of the New Southern Gothic that I've noticed but I did not get to in my last post on the subject:

1. Writers in the New Southern Gothic are not neccessarily Southern natives.  In this case, one author is, the other isn't.

2. And here is one that is VERY interesting to me: ALL of the books I've mentioned as sharing similar traits involve something that has not necessarily been a part of the gothic genre.  All the tales employ time travel, usually associated with either the rambling house or a meaningful object associated with that house, or both.

In case you missed that post and you're interested in drawing comparisons, here's the list I've constructed so far for what I'm calling "The New Southern Gothic:"

The Aurelia LaRue series by Kira Saito
The Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Amber House by Kelly Moore and her daughters, Tucker and Larkin Reed
The Legacy Series by Christine Locke

Enjoy!  And, if you have any novels that should be included in this list, I implore you to mention them in comments.  Perhaps I'll return to grad school after all, because I see a disseratation in this somewhere....

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