by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Creatures takes place in Gatlin, South Carolina. A quick jaunt over to Google Maps confirms that, yes, that is in the South. Gatlin might not be in Louisiana, but Beautiful Creatures has all the Southern flavor of True Blood and then some. Gatlin, South Carolina is a small town where the accents are thick and it can rain for months on end. It's also got murky swamps with alligators and magic churning the waters. Take that, Bon Temps, Louisiana!
So that covers the "Southern" part of Southern Gothic. What about the Gothic? Sorry, just because Lena has an all-black style, it doesn't make Beautiful Creatures Gothic. Instead, picture antebellum plantation homes, probably haunted. Add strange families with even stranger secrets. Finally, sprinkle in some home-grown magic. There might even be some supernatural creatures roaming the grounds.
Another characteristic of Gothic literature is its foreboding nature, especially as we peel away at the layers of secrets. There's a heavy sense of dread hanging over your head from the first few pages of Beautiful Creatures, and it's not just the fear of being stuck in a town full of back-stabbing cheerleaders—although that's scary enough in itself. From the very first chapter, Ethan is having dreams. And not fun dreams of flying and winning the lottery. No, he's dreaming of falling, drowning, and suffocating.
Lena, too, lives under a cloud of constant dread. She's literally counting down the days until her sixteenth birthday. Where most girls look forward to a Sweet Sixteen, for Lena, it might just be the day that life as she knows it ends forever.
Psychologically spooky, right? That's Gothic literature for you.