Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review by Coll! The Casquette Girls (The Casquette Girls, #1) by Alys Arden. 4 Coffee Cups!

The Casquette Girls (The Casquette Girls, #1) 
By: Alys Arden
Genre: YA / Paranormal

Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition. 

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.

Review by Coll
My Rating: 4 Coffee Cups!

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Teenage life always seems complicated, but Adele’s life takes this complication to the next level. After returning to her storm-ravaged hometown of New Orleans she has to help her father rebuild their home, view daily a city that has been destroyed and ignored, and attend a snobby prep school instead of her old art school. Oh yeah, and she has to adapt to the fact that she possesses magical powers and also deal with some not-so-friendly paranormal visitors in New Orleans. Just another day in the life of a teenager. As she struggles to come to terms with her new powers, she meets several others who also possess strange abilities and together they need to work to protect their city and the people in it, who do not even know the grave danger they are in. 

I will just say it, I pretty much loved this book. Casquette Girls is the perfect mix of YA fantasy and paranormal, with a hint of gothic romance, in a location that is so rich in culture and history that you cannot help but find yourself sucked into the story. The book switches back and forth between present day and the early 1700s seamlessly and both times are described with such rich detail that you feel transported to the location. I have never been to New Orleans but Arden’s description of it made me feel like I have visited it numerous times and I was able to paint a perfect image in my head. At so many moments during the book I was amazed with the author’s ability to depict locations and people, and this added tremendously to my experience while reading the book.

The story Arden has created weaves together reality, mythology, and folklore to build a story that is compelling from the first page to the last. At times I was caught by elements that seemed confusing, but several chapters later they would be readdressed and explained more thoroughly so that everything came together and both the reader and the main character, Adele, share the same “a-ha” moments as everything unfolds. Throughout the story, not only did I grow to care for Adele but I developed feelings for every character in the book, whether it was love or hatred. To have character development that evokes such feelings from the reader makes a book so much more enjoyable and helps to make you feel like you are part of the story.

One thing I noticed about this book is that it reminded me of American Horror Story: Coven. While not necessarily a bad thing (because I loved Coven) I did find myself coming across many similarities and at times that did bother me a little. I am sure a lot of this is attributed to the New Orleans folklore and was unavoidable, but I often found myself drawing parallels between Casquette Girls and Coven. The only other thing that vexed me slightly is how every character who discovered they had magical powers was just so accepting of it. I feel like a little more emotion and distress would go into discovering you had magic abilities, but then this is fantasy so anything is possible.

By the end of the book, there were several things that I was still uncertain of but I am confident that these things will all be expanded upon in the rest of the series, which, by the way, I am looking quite forward to. The ending is perfectly satisfying and does not leave you with an immense cliffhanger, but it does leave you in enough wonderment that you really do look forward to the next book in the series. Overall I think Arden did an excellent job and wrote a thoroughly enjoyable and immersive book. I found myself slightly fan-girling about Casquette Girls by the end (yes, I admit that) and am missing my fictional New Orleans friends already.

“...Moving pictures and flying machines seemed like magic at one time. It's not a huge leap to believe that what seems irrational or magical now will be commonplace in the future. I believe everyone has magical powers. However, only certain people - the ones who are open to it - can tap into the true capacity of the mind and push the current brink of human thought. Some are called geniuses, some are called prophets, others are called witches.”

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