and here's my personal reaction: this is a fairly ordinary offering in need of a good edit, ultimately long-winded and over-dramatic. i'll admit that having two authors really put me off from the beginning, even though in the past i have embraced books like nick and norah's infinite playlist by david levithan and rachel cohn and dear venny, dear saffron by gary crew and libby hathorn. and now, well, beautiful creatures is not a book to my personal taste, but i think that even when i look at it objectively it falls below the mark for being slow moving and repetitive. the authors tell the reader that the town was oppressive, that it held tight to its inhabitants; similarly with lena's family. but i didn't feel it: the reader just has to accept it as truth. while i really liked the dream-flashbacks to the civil war era i think the book failed to create a real sense of suspense or mystery and i always felt one step ahead of the characters - sometimes infuriatingly so. lena is a wishy-washy character that i never warmed to, and i didn't understand why ethan felt so strongly for her - i just wanted him to hightail it out of town and stop being so pathetic.
alternative reading options: for books with creepy settings and mysterious townspeople you could instead read the gathering by isobelle carmody. if you want a book about feeling some deep internal connection with another person you could go with bridge to terabithia by katherine paterson. and if it's the deep south that interests you there's always gone with the wind by margaret mitchell.