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Bending the Spine

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.
Library Binding, 432 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published July 7th 2011)
ISBN: 0385906366 (ISBN13: 9780385906364)


I have no clue what “gothic” means as it relates to a book, so I looked it up on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.  Here’s what it says:
Goth·ic   adj \ˈgä-thik\
3 often not capitalized : of or relating to a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents
By this definition Texas Gothic is gothic.  I guess my own definition was something much darker, much drearier, much more gruesome and sinister.  And I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, since I had my definition wrong.
I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, a lot more than I thought I would.  The first 80 pages or so had me lost and baffled.  I couldn’t quite figure out who the characters were or what was really going on.  Once things got going, I really got into the story and was hooked.  Though, I wasn’t completely sold on the book until I got past the halfway point.  Up till then I was only partly invested, thinking this was just a cute YA story that happened to involve ghost stories and kitchen magic.
Boy was I too quick to judge!  What we really get is a clever, well-crafted paranormal YA novel.  Clement-Moore has a very clever writing style, that mixes deadpan humor and sarcasm to bring a lightness to a very serious plot.  I like that parts had me cringing and on the edge of my seat, and parts had me laughing out loud.  And more often than not, these two mingled together to create one fantastic adventure.
“Lila found it,” I said automatically.

I think she did a spell by accident,” said Phin, because she always had to go there.

His grin turned teasing.  “Do you do a lot of magic spells?”

“No,” I answer emphatically.

“That’s true,” said Phin.  “Amy prefers to operate in a more mundane world than the rest of our family.”

Jennie asked, “So is your family…what do you call it? Wiccan?”

“Good grief, no,” said Phin.  “We’re all Lutherans.”
(page 134-5)
I liked that we weren’t dealing with the normal YA teens.  Amy and Phin are in their late teens, college age.  The rest of the main cast are young adults, college kids.  It was also nice that Amy, our heroine, was not helpless or hopeless.  She was strong and independent.  Quite a contrast from other YA female leads.  Another key factor in my admiration for Texas Gothic, that the paranormal is balanced by the normal.  Not everyone is ok with magic, not everyone is convinced of it’s worth.  It made a story that could have been in left field, relatable and real.
The one cliché YA thing was the relationship between Amy and Ben.  At one point, I made the note, “gag me soon.”  It was the normal love-hate-at-first-sight we’re-from-two-different-worlds-and-can’t-be-together hoopla.  I tired quickly of how Amy would describe how amazingly handsome Ben was every time she saw him for (what felt like) the first half of the book. I’m sure chicks swoon over that kind of stuff, but dudes don’t.  I would have understood his attractiveness with one Amy-swooing-over-Ben scene.  Just a little too much for this dude to digest.
But, with it all said and done, Texas Gothic should be added to your TBR pile soon.  I really liked it, and I bet you will, too.
4 Trees: It doesn’t take magic to love this book!

Get to reading,

About the author:

I’ve always loved to write, even when I should have been doing other things, like Algebra homework. My first job was as Chuck E. Cheese, and I worked in theater for years, but now I put my drama queen skills to use writing books, which is a much better job, since I get to work in my pajamas and take a break in the afternoon to play video games.
(Rosemary's Website)
You can find her on Twitter, too.


  1. Replies
    1. It is a really fun read! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Texas Gothic is filled with charming quirkiness, and great writing. What's there not to like with a cute cranky cowboy, tree climbing Houdini goats, Go Go Gadget Gidget girl, rump scratching cows, and a love story like a prize fight.


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