Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Title: Texas Gothic
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Witches, Magic, Psychic Abilites, Ghosts
Publisher: Delacorte Press, Random House Inc.
ISBN-13: 9780385736930
ISBN: 0385736932
Release: July 12, 2011
Rating: 4.5/5


Tagline(s): You can't escape your inner witch...

Summary:

Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems---she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect her family, but to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.

Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that: good old ordinary, uneventful, hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them---and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.

It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.

Review:

Characters

Amy Goodnight, legal name Amaryllis, refers to herself as the Gatekeeper. She tries to keep the paranormal world her family lives in, and the normal world everyone else lives separate. Although she denies being a witch, since she began house-sitting for her aunt, she's shown an affinity for ghosts. An affinity she wishes very much would go away.

Phin Goodnight, legal name Delphinium, is Amy's older sister. She's a genius when it comes to chemistry and physics, but she can be pretty aloof when it comes to things outside the sciences: such as guys, namely Mark Delgado. Every Goodnight gravitates toward a certain affinity, but Phin's closest fit is Kitchen witchery, although she's really all about the science and gadgets.

Ben McCulloch is the son of the McCulloch Ranch owners. He's Amy's hot cowboy neighbor, and their first meeting isn't exactly smooth. They are constantly bickering every time they see each other, mostly about the Mad Monk of McCulloch Ranch. Ben doesn't believe in the supernatural and wants nothing to do with it. And don't even think about getting his family involved.

Mark Delgado is a member of the dig team excavating the bones found on McCulloch Ranch. He's got a thing for Phin and when things get ghosty, he goes with the flow. He doesn't say whether he actually believes in the supernatural, but when things start going south he decides to stick around and help out.

The Mad Monk of McCulloch Ranch is a legend (or perhaps not) about the ghost of a monk, or possibly a priest-soldier, who smacks people about the head to protect a treasure. This story has been told by word-of-mouth for years, so the details are questionable. Is the Mad Monk Amy's ghostly apparition?

Theme

One theme in this book is denial of true self. Amy denies that she's a witch or that she has any supernatural talents. Even though it's evident that she has an affinity of ghosts, otherwise the ghost wouldn't have come to her. Eventually, when she can no longer deny who she really is, she accepts that she's a true Goodnight.

Another theme is denial of the supernatural world. Whether the supernatural is real is up to your individual interpretations. But in the world of the book it's very much a reality. And Ben can't accept that. Even when the evidence of it is freezing him to death. I can't say whether he ever really believes the supernatural is real after the events that transpired, but I do think he's a little more open to it.

Plot

A lot of ghost stories are in the genre of mystery and suspense, and this one is no different.

We have a ghost---who is either real or legend---that wants to be found. He wants the truth about himself to be known. But who is he really? Is he really the Mad Monk or was his identity lost to time? And if he's not the violent treasure hoarder, what's his real story? This is the mystery Amy needs to find the answers to. But that's not necessarily going to be easy.

Enter the greedy complication. Someone wants the gold very badly. So badly they'd desecrate human remains in their search. The very remains that could have shown up more clues to the identity of Amy's ghost had the site not been destroyed.

Add Amy's detective work and the greedy gold miner, and you've got some very suspenseful moments. Not to mention dangerous and life-threatening.

All of these elements in the plot---the mystery and suspense; the complication and resolutions (which I will not say a word about because there would definitely be spoilers)---mix very well together. It's a well-balanced plot.

Setting

There are three distinct settings in this book: Goodnight Farm, the excavation at the river, and the bat cave.

Goodnight Farm, with it's lavender fields and fresh, green smells, are a place of comfort for Amy and Phin. It's the one place they feel truly safe. Although the tree-climbing goats are a source of irritation for Amy.

When Amy first heard about the excavation she didn't want to go anywhere near it. For Phin it presents an opportunity for her to gain data for her experiments. And for the diggers it's a chance to learn about something that happened so long ago, and the excitement of a new discovery. But for the McCulloch's it's just a nuisance.

The bat cave is a small cave that Amy accidentally fell into thinking it was just a shadowy spot. This cave makes Amy feel scared. She fears that she'll die in a grave of bat poop if help doesn't come to get her out. Her ghost also pays her a visit  here and warns her to be careful. Of what? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out.

My Final Thoughts:

I really liked the humor and banter between Amy and Ben. I thought that the moments when they were actually couple-like were few and far between, almost like a teaser. But even though the romance element is lacking the rest of the plot more than make up for it.

Quote:

Chapter Fifteen, Page 175 

"The paranormal touched people's lives, even if they didn't realize it. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad, and mostly the Goodnight's tried to make sure it was good." 

About this Author:

I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing, even when I should have been doing algebra homework. Despite this, I managed to earn a master's degree in communication, and an ecclectic resume, mostly because I couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was interested in so many different things. The thing I like best about being a writer is that, for the space of a novel, you get to be whatever you want. Astronaut, detective, ballerina...

I went into theatre--it's all storytelling, in its own way--but now I put my drama queen skills to work writing books, which is awesome, because I don't have to stay on a diet, and I get to work in my pajamas and take breaks to play Rock Band. (Sadly, this is the only video game I can play, as most of them make me rather seasick. I suspect this seriously reduces my gamer nerd credibility.)

My interests and obsessions change frequently and without notice, but I pretty consistantly obsess about dogs, horses, sailing (despite the sea sickness thing), history, archeology, Gilbert and Sullivan, BBC America, Star Wars, movies with swords and explosions and Russell Crowe, and of course, books.

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