Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Texas Gothic

Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Pages: 416
Source: Library
Why I read it: I've had this book on my to read list for a while, because I loved the title and premise. I'm originally from Texas and my family has a ranch in Texas. I like the idea of mixing the paranormal with a Texas ranch.

Summary: (from Goodreads)  
Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.
This was a fun read! It's a mystery with elements of romance and the paranormal, well, actually, a lot of paranormal, because Amy is a Goodnight. And the Goodnights attract the supernatural and they and other label themselves as witches. Amy has been trying to avoid the supernatural all her life, but when a ghost attaches itself to her, she can't ignore it.

My favorite parts were the characters and the mystery, even though I had figured out the culprits towards the middle of the book. I liked the mixture of paranormal and mystery and good old fashioned sleuthing. It's obvious that the author really likes Nancy Drew (not a critique, I remember loving Nancy Drew!) and she is name dropped several times in the book. I started reading another one of the author's books and it also name dropped Nancy, so it seems to be an author thing! The plot moved beyond Nancy Drew with magic and real supernatural.

I found the plot a little confusing at first. Well, confusing is maybe not the right word. I felt that it was a little plodding at first and I was trying to distinguish between the different ghosts and histories. It wasn't until towards the middle of the book that I was starting to distinguish between the "Mad Monk" and the ghost that was haunting Amy. The resolution felt pretty predictable, but I'm glad the mystery and the resolution do actually involve the supernatural. It wasn't just a case of Scooby Doo with the villain using a ghost story to commit crimes.

I found the characters compelling and interesting. Amy and her sister, Phin, were a nice contrast with each other. Amy being uptight about her family, while still caring about them and Phin off in her own little world, but surprisingly more street smart than she seems at first.

However, at first, I was disappointed in the romance, because I wanted to focus on the mystery and the paranormal, but as the romance blossomed between Amy and Ben, it grew on me. Ben is a jerk, but underneath he is a caring person. I think Clement-Moore did a good job of balancing the two sides of Ben and made him a sympathetic character and showed his motivations for first clashing with Amy. I did start to like Ben towards the end of the book. He does redeem himself.

As I said before, I'm from Texas and I really appreciate the world the author creates without resorting to stereotypes. No one is really redneckish and besides some peripheral characters, the personalities are fleshed out. I was worried that Ben would be a cowboy stereotype, and he IS, but he also has another side to him.
I'm generally very sick of YA books always being made into sequels, but this is one of those cases where I wish there would be a sequel! The author seems to set it up to be a sequel, with Amy embracing her paranormal abilities, like the paranormal Nancy Drew, and a vague ending. I hope she does revisit these characters, because I am fascinated by all of the characters. I've also heard good things about the author's other books and have already checked them out from the library. I do hope she continues writing about Texas.

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