Nothing ever happens in Gatlin or so small-town boy Ethan Wate believes. Counting down the days until he gets to leave for college and escape the shadow his mother's death has cast over his family, he never expects his world to be turned upside down. He's seen Lena Duchannes in his dreams and when she walks into his classroom on his first day of Junior Year, he has to know her.Lena is the niece of Macon (Old Man) Ravenwood, a "Boo Radley" character who has been cast as the town spook for years. A cautionary tale for any child on the scent of mischief, Lena is tarnished with the same brush by the "Good Folk of Gatlin." As Ethan counts down the days to his escape, Lena, a Caster, counts the days to her destiny. On her 16th birthday she will be claimed by the light or the dark becoming a powerful force for either side. This book was really interesting but had plenty of elements that 'bothered' me initially. I had never read a YA book from a male POV and it definitely took time to adjust but I was pleasantly surprised. Getting to hear what the teenage boy was thinking was a breath of fresh air after working my way through a pile of YA 'heroines' who's only discernable difference was hair or eye colour. I once described this book as hard to pick up and difficult to put down. It's a long book and took me a few weeks to finish. It was in no way an uninteresting book or badly written, it simply had a lot of slow moving passages with not a lot of action. However the story and beautiful characterisation was still compelling enough that I couldn't leave it alone. I may have had to take a break for a couple of days but at no point was it a risk for a "Did Not Finish".I really enjoyed the descriptions of Southern life, the traditions, the myths, the insular and conservative outlook mixed in with unmistakable charm. The main story of Lena's claiming was nicely woven in with the normalcy of Ethan's homelife, a house mired in grief over the loss of light his mother brought to their lives, his father's inabilility to cope and housekeeper/agony-aunt/nana Amma's struggles to keep it all together. I really enjoyed the time and care taken by the authors to create a rich and descriptive world inhabited by the Casters. The different powers each one possessed, the explanations of the claiming and the reveal of the Duchannes curse all kept me riveted and eager to keep going through the books slower moving passages.The relationships between the characters of Lena/Ethan, Lena/Macon, Ethan/Amma were all incredibly real, sweet and moving and stayed with me long after I closed the book. Overall this was an enjoyable read despite the slow moving parts and I look forward to reading the rest of the series and learning what's in store for Lena and Ethan.