First off, thank you to Amazon Publishing for sending me a free physical copy in exchange for an honest review! When I first saw this book, I immediately thought, “Wow, it’s so huge! And the cover is gorgeous!” Those initial thoughts haven’t changed, fortunately. 🙂
Title: The Casquette Girls (The Casquette Girls #1)
Author: Alys Arden
Release date: November 17, 2015
Genre: Young adult, urban fantasy, paranormal
Length: 565 pages (paperback)
Synopsis (from Goodreads): “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.”
I fell into the rabbit hole that is New Orleans and I didn’t want to leave! Adele and her father return to their in the aftermaths of the Storm (which, I assume, is Hurricane Katrina though it was never specifically called by that name) to pick up the pieces of their old life. Adele recently returned from Paris, where she was sent to boarding school by her mother. Adele hopes life will quickly return back to normal, but it soon becomes obvious that normal is easier said than done.
One of my main complaints about this book is the length. Not much happened in terms of action for the first 125 pages or so. I repeatedly myself, “Where’s the plot?” But even after that, I wasn’t fully drawn in until around the 200 page mark. We’re introduced to a slew of characters that make minor reappearances later, and I wonder how many of these could have been combined into one character to make things smoother and allow us to reach the plot faster. Combining particular scenes would have helped, too, or even some more polishing in terms of how important particular scenes are to the overall story.
In terms of characters, I’m genuinely surprised how cool and calm Adele was when she discovered she had powers. To me, her reaction wasn’t genuine, and it seemed like she shrugged it off like no big deal even while she tested her powers on various objects. She didn’t freak out at all. I mean, hello?! You did just discover you can randomly move objects, cause things to burst, or light fires?! I imagine my emotions would be on the fritz! As for Désirée and Isaac, I really liked the both of them, and I absolutely loved how the author tied them all together. But I will say I wasn’t convinced of the romance between Adele and two different male characters. A lot of it seemed sudden.
Some of my favorite parts were actually the diary of Adele’s ancestor, Adeline Sainte Germain. Arden’s writing truly shines as she transport the readers to late 1720 New Orleans, which is still in its early fledging as a French colony. Truthfully, I actually preferred this small historical fiction part to the contemporary! However, I do think we were left in the dark in terms of Adeline’s father, and I hope we learn more about him in the second book.
In terms of setting, I was a bit confused in the beginning. A big “Storm” has come through the entire city of New Orleans. Adele and her father are just returning but they’re able to live in their house fairly normally even though part of the wall is gone and their furnishings have been touched by the water. I suppose I could shrug it off to the “ancient magic”…
There are a variety of plot twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I’m horrible at even trying to predict how things will turn out, so everything came out of the blue for me! I loved how torn Niccolo Medici was. He and his brother, Gabriel, seem so innocent when we meet them. Little did we know how much of a bigger role they would play! Then it’s suddenly BAM BAM BAM and I’m like, “What is happening?!” I imagine what happened to the vampires is only a temporary fix, especially since there’s a grand revelation toward the last few chapters. That’ll be interesting to see come into play in the next book, if it does at all.