Book one of the The Casquette Girls series is AWESOME. Magic and mystery and history and romance and vampires (NOT sparkly ones) and fire and voodoo and the French Quarter all combine into an action-packed, semi-romantic, paranormal whirlwind of a story.
In the wake of The Storm, a hurricane so destructive that there is no need to name it, New Orleans lies decimated. 16 year old Adele Le Moyne is banished by her father to stay with her absentee mother in Paris while the city is rebuilt, but it has been months now. Born and raised in the French Quarter of the historic city, Adele wants to come home. So she puts her foot down and informs her dad she is on her way.
But home isn’t what she left behind. Her re-entry to the city is heart-breaking. Vast destruction, unsalvageable homes and businesses, parish-wide curfews, missing friends and mysterious murders turn the once vibrant city into a ghost town in more ways than one. And Adele finds herself enmeshed in mysteries and magic that have their roots in the early 18th century, just as New Orleans was establishing itself. Myths have a way of being based in past truths.
I. Loved. This. Book. The characters, the plot, the world building, the pace. I would love to find something to pick apart about it, but I can’t. It’s good. Even the romance/love triangle wasn’t enough to make me knock it down a bit. Teenage love is so angst-ridden and fickle and overwhelming, and author Alys Arden handles it SO well.
Nothing is random.
Characters are well developed, distinct, believable. Adele is a kick-ass teen, homesick for a city she loves, confused about normal and abnormal teen stuff, and caught up in a spell that is not of her own making. Desiree is her perfect counterpart, Nicco brooding and tormented, Isaac a bit pathetically smitten, but in a cute-tortured-artist sort of way, the triplets from another time just leap off the page, Emile and Gabe are flat-out bastards (although I still found Gabe likeable (my weakness for the bad boy)), and Ren is AMAZING. The list goes on.
I have never been to New Orleans. I now feel I could find my way around blind-folded. Arden’s vision of the city, seen through the eyes of a teen who passionately loves every inch of it, makes me want to travel there. SO well done. You can feel the magic and history lifting from the pages. The entire book reads like a loving tribute to a city struggling to rebuild, and refusing to have its spirit crushed.
The plot and pace are impeccable. What a GREAT story. Vampires and magic that have roots in France, travel to New Orleans, and shape the history of the city. The diary entries throughout the story, something I normally can take or leave, kept me on the edge of my seat as much as the main story. And the twist in the attic! Unexpected, yet not. What else do you need?
There is some violence (there are vampires and death, after all), but it is by no means gratuitous or overdone. Anyone who enjoys mystery and magic can read this novel.
The Casquette Girls (series) is published by Skyscape.