PJV Quickie: THE CASQUETTE GIRLS by Alys Arden is a novel that is first and foremost about the legends and lore of New Orleans, everything else is secondary, the City is the most important character in the novel. Only a city like New Orleans, whose history is filled with stories of magic and mystery, can carry a novel like this one. When you pick up the book and read the blurb and you see that it’s set in New Orleans everything about the plot seems just a little more conceivable. Think of this book as the YA equivalent of Royal Street. When you read the blurb, even though it doesn’t explicitly say the word vampire, you’re left pretty sure that there are vampires, thanks to the sentence “Someone or something is draining life from its residents,” really in a paranormal story your only options are vampires and succubi when you see that phrase. BUT! This isn’t a vampire story! Not like you’re used to, sure there are vampires, but they’re not the primary feature!! If you’re in the mood for a vampire novel that’s more of a witch novel then check this book out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it has earned itself a spot on my favourites shelf!
This book starts off slow. REALLY, REALLY SLOW. Some interesting things happen, but they don’t seem connected to anything or appear to be going anywhere because the narrator generally brushes them off and moves onto something more mundane. I get why she does this, she’s trying to bring back normalcy to her life, but it makes for a slow read. If you stick with it though and keep pushing through you will be supremely rewarded because it gets VERY GOOD and once it starts getting good it gets better and better very quickly to the point where, by about the middle of the second part it was pretty much impossible to put down. The further you get into it, the more all of those little things at the beginning in the slow parts come back to you and just make you ask yourself “How did I not notice that!?” or “Jeeeeeeeesus that makes so much sense now!”
Now for the positives and negatives. Positives, the plot is absolutely wonderful, very fresh. The entire story feels like it’s not something I’ve ever really seen before, not as a whole anyway. It gives off a very YA Lost Girl sort of vibe for those of you familiar with that show. I like the narrator too, early on she feels like she’s going to be a pretentious brat, but you get past that very quickly and see that she’s a strong, independent girl who cares a lot, even if sometimes what she cares about makes her priorities seem skewed in the eyes of other characters. Speaking of other characters, I can only think of one character I didn’t like and luckily she was only a minor periphery character and she was completely gone by the middle of the book. Wait come to think of it she was replaced by Dixie and I didn’t like Dixie either, but she was also a periphery character of middling consequence so that doesn’t really matter. I would have like Isaac and Desiree to have more character development, but given that we’re in a first person narrator scenario that’s impossible. Biggest positive though to me is the ending, Arden has created the perfect hook to lead into a sequel.
On to the negatives, first and foremost the romances were more than a little contrived I think, I mean pretty much every male character had at the very least a passing interest in the narrator, Adele, at one point she was in a love quadrangle. A QUADRANGLE. Love triangles are complicated enough, they do not need the addition of another person. I enjoy a good love triangle as much as anyone else, I grew up a fan of Archie comics so that’s kind of a given. That being said I do not enjoy forced love triangles and the one in this novel seemed forced to me. Seriously, the novel would have been able to do exactly the same thing without Nicco, it would have been just as good! In fact! If Gabe had been subbed into the role of Nicco whole thing would have been even more interesting!! Especially once you got to all the reveals! Another negative is all the loose ends, but I suppose most of the loose ends can be chalked up to hope that this novel will become part of a series. I, like Isaac, want to know about the other heirs! Also you know what would have been really cool? To include hand written, script-y snippets of the french diary that Adele spends a good portion of the novel translating, I love when books throw in neat little things like that!
Overall it is a good, fun read, it’s not your ordinary teen romance story. Fingers crossed for a series 😀
Read this book if:[list icon=”icon: chevron-circle-right” icon_color=”#ac2b46″]
- You like exploring the legends and lore of a familiar place.
- You enjoy urban fantasy novels.
- You’s ever even been remotely fascinated by New Orleans.
- You find elemental magic interesting.
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- You prefer a novel featuring vampires to actually focus on vampires.
- You don’t like unnecessary love triangles. (Or ya know, quadrangles s’all I’m saying…)
- You prefer a fast paced story.