19 June 2014

Review: The Casquette Girls - Alys Arden

Welcome to a storm-torn New Orleans, where the water level rose so high that people died trapped in their own attics, where crime is rife and people have been found murdered in the street. Now the water and the storm have subsided, Adele and her father come back to the city to salvage what is left of their lives. For Adele this journey is much tougher than she ever expected as she struggles juggling strange occurrences, murders, a new school and family issues. Soon, all that comes to the fore and Adele find herself fighting for the truth, only to find herself plagued by a very old curse that she has everything to do with.

This book was very unexpected for me. I had only read the blurb when I picked it up, so the prescence of something supernatural was kind of expected, but what those entities were really wasn't! Spoiler alert guys, this is, in fact, a vampire book... and a witchy book. Now, I don't usually go in for vampires any more, not with the travesty of sparkles haunting the once-terrifying version of them that I had in my head, but you know what? This book has changed my mind yet again. I really enjoyed the way that the creatures were portrayed in both a sympathetic light and as cunning monsters by using several characters to display their strengths and weaknesses, and their underlying humanity. There was one part in a diary entry, on a boat, where the story began to played out rather too much like Dracula for my liking, but it was a really lovely nod to the classic tale that made vampires what they are today.

The narrative was beautifully written. It flowed really well and although it had a fairly slow start, the build up and the confusion at first makes the rest of the story even more interesting for the reader. I was quite caught off guard at one point, when about a third into the book, we suddenly had a diary entry instead of the usual prose, written by Adele's ancestor, Adeline. This threw me off slightly, as I had just started getting really into Adele's story. However, once Adeline's story geared up, I enjoyed these diary entries enormously too.

The way that the story fit together was seamlessly done. I loved the way that every character had a reason for being there, and the way that things said earlier in the book make total sense eventually. You can never quite see the relevance of someone like Emile, for example, until they come into the story yet again in a quite unexpected way. At the end there are a few glaring omission ready for the next book, the chief among them being; what exactly was the freak storm? It was not natural, for sure.

As for characters, I found Adele a great character with a strong, charismatic voice. You can really sympathise with her, and she isn't your usually whiny teenager type either. Although her cluelessness at the beginning goes on for too long, she quickly becomes the perfect heroine for me; slightly flawed with plenty of courage, attitude and brains. The other characters were so well drawn you could imagine them standing in the room, but it was Desiree and Isaac who really took centre-stage as they both slowly grow on you, just as they do with Adele.

Nothing is as it seems to begin with, and this book certainly packs a punch at the end. There is a fair bit of suspense and a lot of action, as well as a couple of surprises. A truly well-written book with only minor issues.