The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden.

Stars: 4 out of 5.

 

I actually loved this book a lot more than I thought I would. It’s well written and even though it takes the tragedy that was hurricane Katrina and uses it as a plot device, it’s well done and not used only to wring tears from the readers.

 

In fact, when this book starts, the Storm, because the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in this book was so big that it didn’t even have a name, is already over. The protagonist and her family are left to pick up the broken pieces of their lives that were left in its wake.

 

What I loved the most about this book is the description of New Orleans. You can see that the author loves this city and knows a lot about its history and mythology. New Orleans is alive and vibrant on these pages, even when it’s broken and flooded and full of death and rot. It’s still a city unlike any others, full of magic and religion and voodoo, full of quirky people who speak a strange mélange of French, English, and Creole. A city that will party and sing even when the world is ending just to prove to it that it’s still alive. Laissez les bons temps rouler.

 

I loved all the quirky characters this books is populated with. The inhabitants of the Vieux Carre all feel like one big dysfunctional but loving family. Those are the die hards, the ones who came back as soon as the city was deemed safe enough to return because they simply couldn’t imagine their life anywhere else. And you can feel their love for their beautiful (if destroyed) city through all their words and actions. Kudos to the author for showing that.

 

I also liked Adele, the main protagonist. Yes, she is seventeen and dreams of boys and dresses and first love, but when push comes to shove, she demonstrates a surprising level of maturity and determination. More importantly, she acts instead of reacting. Love protagonists like that! I love that she is no damsel in distress either and prefers to resolve her own problems herself instead of waiting for someone else to do that for her. And that she takes matters personally when people she cares about are hurt.

 

So by now you are probably wondering why I gave The Casquette Girls only 4 stars out of 5 if I liked this book so much? Well, the thing that didn’t work for me was the love story. My first gripe is purely subjective and personal – I don’t like love triangles. But I hate it even more here because it didn’t really feel like a love triangle until the last fourth of the book. For most of it, Addie had feelings for Nico and a developing friendship with Isaac… but then all of a sudden it shifts, but not really. So it felt like Addie settled for the second best because the first choice was unavailable. This is not fair to Adele and not fair to Isaac, because both are great characters.

 

But since it’s the first book in a series, I am willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt on that account and hope that she either develops that relationship better in the future books or resolves it in a way that makes sense.

 

All in all, this is a wonderful book that I would definitely recommend. If you want to read a story of magic, vampires, old family secrets, and new friendships, all set in the magical city of New Orleans, this book is definitely for you.

 

PS. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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