Monday, 12 August 2013

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Series: Goodnight Family, Book One
Publisher: Corgi
Format: Paperback
Published: 7th June 2011
Number of Pages: 416
Book: For Review*
Genre: Paranormal, Supernatural, Mystery Murder-Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Crime Novel, Thriller, Thriller-Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Swearing, Violence, Alcohol and Drug References
Author's Blog: Rosemary Clement-Moore

Amy Goodnight’s family are far from normal.  She comes from a long line of witches, and grew up surrounded by benevolent spirits and kitchen spells. Al fairly harmless, but Amy can’t wait to get to college and escape the “family business”.
But things take a darker turn when she and her sister Phin spend the summer looking after their Aunt Hyacinth’s ranch.  Amy is visited by a midnight sceptre who is clearly trying to send her a message.  It seems that the discovery of an old grave on a neighbour’s land has been the catalyst for an apparent ghost uprising.
Aided by local friends and Ben, the handsome cowboy who just can’t take his eyes off Amy, the sisters investigate.  And they soon find that there’s something strange and dangerous going on, deep in the heart of Texas…

'A lifetime of living with witches and psychics had made spells a routine part of my life.  I knew they worked, but I still preferred to put my trust in a locked door.  My relationship with magic was like a president's kid's relationship with politics: I didn't participate, but I couldn't quite escape it.  Especially not here, in the White House of the sovereign nation of Goodnight.'
Everyone knows the Goodnights are eccentric.  Kooky.  Crazy.  
They just don't know how different they are.  
Amaryllis (more commonly known as Amy) Goodnight knows, though.  She knows that the Goodnights are witches.  She grew up with witches, even if she doesn't practice herself.  But proof of her family's craziness?  
Her sister Phin Goodnight blew up the chemistry lab while trying to charm the football team's jerseys.  Daisy Goodnight's imaginary friends were real people – ghosts.  Violet Goodnight's crystals can cure a headache and even pick up Mexican radio.
So yes.  The Goodnights are odd.
But Amy, she knows how everyone sees her is important and so she carefully blocks off her home life from her public one, smoothing problems over and keeping the whole witch thing very much secret.
But then Phin and Amy agree to look after their Aunt's ranch over the summer.  Big mistake.  Like seriously, a huge mistake.
And we're not talking about the ghost of their Uncle Burt.  Or the fact Amy runs around in her underwear to scare of a cow and then gets into a fight about ghosts with a hot cowboy (still in her underwear).  Oh no.  It is just... so much worse.  Amy knows that's hard to believe, but it really is.  As in, catastrophic-freaky-deaky-paranormal-ghostly-happenings bad.  As in dead-body-found and ghostly-attacks bad.
So the Goodnight sisters are dragged into an investigation - one that could reveal the very secret Amy has been fighting to hide for so, so many years – and draw up a whole rush of old memories...
I've never read anything by Rosemary Clement-Moore before, although I've been eyeing Texas Gothic for what feels like forever – damn budget!  I am so glad that I finally got round to reading it, because I loved it.  It was absa-freaking-amazing.  I just gobbled it all up!  I am now going to have to buy every single book by Clement-Moore now, because even if they're only a quarter as good as this it'll be more than worth it.  And I was so pleased to see she has written a sequel – I only found out after I began writing the review and literally did a happy dance!
Amy was brilliant: so funny, snarky and just a great character.  I instantly fell in love with her!  She had me laughing my head off, hunting ghosts and wincing (because man did this girl get herself into some awkward scrapes!). 
And her sister Phin was just as amazing.  She was like an evil scientific genius.  I love that in a girl.  Plus, she was just so darn quirky and bizarre.  Oddly enough, this made me relate to her more.  I wonder why…
As for Ben, well excuse me while I swoon.  He is gorgeous.  Seriously.  I mean, sure, he's grumpy and snarky and moody.  But he's also sweet and funny and gruffly caring.
And I loved the relationship between Amy and Ben.  I loved that it wasn't love-at-first-sight.  It was an insta-hate (albeit a very understandable one, given all the circumstances that I won't go into now because it would make this review way too long).  It was also hilarious.  Their banter was one of the highpoints of the books.  And I loved watching how their relationship changed and grew.  It was really sweet and also really real.
The rest of the characters were brilliant too.  A few faves were Mark and Ben's Mom.   And I loved Aunt Hyacinth and Uncle Ben – in fact, I loved all the Goodnights.  Cousin Daisy was another highlight – as was her bickering with Phin!  Their kookiness kinda reminded me of my own very crazy family.  If only we had magic though...
I will admit, for quite a while I was completely confused about the whole magic thing.  For ages, I was going: "Ok... so Amy doesn't like magic…   Doesn't she have magic?  And what exactly can these witches do?  Other than, like, making awesome potions and shampoo that literally clears your head (could so do with some of that before exams – am I right?), what can they do?"  This didn't really bother me, I must admit, 'cause I loved the characters, writing, plot and humour and I wasn’t confused for long, but it was a little niggle.  It was sorted out and by the end I knew everything there was to know about the magic in this world – and I loved it!
Speaking of: I loved the writing.  It was just so Amy, you know?  Like, if I met her or someone like her, this is exactly how I'd expect them to talk and act.  Her writing was descriptive, beautiful, funny and very witty.  It had me laughing a lot, but also totally hooked and on the edge of my seat as I raced for the end and for all the answers.  Because this plot was awesome.  It was so twisty and exciting and unexpected.  I literally never knew what to expect next.  Which was obviously very fun!  
Plus, it's just so different from your typical YA paranormal stuff.  I read a lot of witch books – trust me – but I found everything in Texas Gothic totally original.  Maybe it was the whole set-in-Texas thing, or the unusual twist on magic – it's all really... I don't know.  Realistic seems like the wrong word.  And yet it's true.  Somehow the magic in this world feels real.  Even the ghosts.  Speaking of, there's also the suspense and borderline-horror: it was totally hooking and mildly terrifying.  And, of course, it was all absolutely freaking hilarious as well!  Or maybe it's the Goodnight family, who I love to pieces.  They're all bizarre, funny and all so different.  I so want to read much much more about them!   Many sequels’ worth, Miss Clement-Moore!
With bundle of magic, suspense and ghosts, with added laugh-your-pants-off-powder and one sexy cowboy, Texas Gothic is every paranormal lover's dream book.  It's funny, it's fun, it's the perfect summer read.  But maybe read in daylight.  Those ghosts?  Cr-ee-py!

Star Rating:
4¼ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood
Blood Journals by Tessa Gratton
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead 
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Wicca Series by Cate Tiernan 

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading

* This book was received from Guardian Children's Books in exchange for an honest review

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