Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
release date: July 12, 2011
hardcover, 416 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for review
description: 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.
Review: What is with this tiny synopsis? It doesn't begin to encompass what goes on in this crazy, wonderful, creepy, mysterious book! I've had high hopes for this one since discovering it's beautiful cover and hearing that it would be about witches, ghosts, and cowboys---and it did not let me down. Some highlights:
One of the best first lines I've seen in a long time:
"The goat was in the tree again. " (pg. 1)
One of the most spot-on explanations of the appeal of cowboys:
"It wasn't just that he was muscular and tan, with broad shoulders and big, long-fingered hands. It was that I'd seen him ride that horse, and I knew his brawn wasn't just for show. There was something practical and capable about that strength that made my insides flutter in an extremely galling way." (pg. 80).
And the absolute best first-meeting scene of the main character and the love interest. Read it---I almost guarantee you'll agree with me on this point. The scene where they first meet is so awkwardly hilarious.
Texas Gothic was chock full of great characters. Amy is smart, sharp-witted, and downright ballsy at times. She has grown up in her eccentric family of witches and magic and come to a point in her life where she is just grasping on to "normal" with all her might. Her older sister, Phin, is so much more quirky and accepting of their family's eccentricities, but just as intelligent. I loved the family dynamic---along with their cousin, their aunt, and their mom, they were the kind of family I love to read: sometimes they are embarrassing, sometimes they get under each other's skin, but they're always there for each other when it counts. I really liked Ben. He and Amy had no shortage of bickering matches, and some of his judgements seemed a little harsh at first, but there was a lot more to him: protectiveness, integrity, sadness, and sacrifice. It had me constantly rooting for the two of them to take off the boxing gloves and get together! I loved Grandpa Mac! Such a character---some of my favorites scenes were his interactions with Phin.
This is a fun mystery, with the classic feel of a modern Nancy Drew who-done-it. There were clues and suspicions and motives all around! There were some genuinely creepy moments in this one---the kinds that make you check the shadows the next time you walk outside at night. One or two tiny drags in the pacing for me within the first 100 pages, but altogether, a fantastic story. This was, as far as I can tell, a stand-alone book, so I may have to read it again sometimes because I know I will miss these characters!
Check out Rosemary's site here.
Purchase Texas Gothic at: Amazon • BN.com • BookDepository • Indiebound
Final note: Oh, what I wouldn't give to try some of Aunt Hyacinths secretly magical shampoos and lotions! :)