Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.
Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.
It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.
This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.
I know it sounds like a weird thing to confess but I really wasn't expecting much from this book. I just thought it would be another humdrum teen book, the usual thing- paranormal element, little bit of a romance, very predictable... I was wrong- It's not just good, it's great! I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book, and was very pleasantly surprised.
I was smiling from the very first line-
The goat was in the tree again.and kept that grin through the rest of the book. Amy is a fabulous MC- smart, fiery and sarcastic, the only non-magical member in a family of witches, and the one who is relied upon to hold everything together, and to present a facade of normalcy to the rest of the world.
Amy and her sister have always grown up knowing about spells and magic potions, and knowing that their family is different from other families. When she meets bitter cowboy neighbour Ben they immediately grate on each other's nerves, and the bickering dialogue between them made for fantastically entertaining reading.
And I have to mention Amy's sister Phin, the mad-scientist type, who is so involved in her investigations and bizarre experiments that she is oblivious to what is going on around her, and more likely to be too busy attaching electrodes to pot plants, than to notice the guy who is noticing her! Amy's whole family were so fantastically bizarre that I just loved them, from all of their weird superstitions and stories, right down to the ghost of Uncle Burt rocking the chair on the porch.
Add in some malevolent ghosts, kitchen witchcraft, and feuding townsfolk, with a backstory fuelled with legends and tales that gave a fantastic sense of history and realism to the town and it's people. This is not only a story of a family of quirky witches it is also a detective story, as Amy and her family and her new friends from the University have to uncover not only the mystery behind the discovery of a group of skeletons on Ben's family's land, but also more recent unusual happenings fuelled by the old legends of the ghost of the "Mad Monk". And even cynical Ben has to concede that something unnatural is going on.
This became a sweet and spooky story, with a mystery element that put me in mind of Scooby Doo at times ("if it wasn't for them pesky kids") and a has given me a completely swoon-worthy new cowboy crush! Ben is grumpy and flippant at first, even mean- accusing Amy and her whole family of being crazy (she was chasing cows in her underwear at the time), but he is soon intrigued by her, and he is always a gentleman when it counts, and won't hestitate to come out and help her when she is in a fix. The slow growing attraction between them was lovely and so much fun- heartwarming and cute, and then pretty intense!
All the time I was reading this book I was visualising hot, dusty Texas, with wide open grassy spaces, big skies and mountains in the distance. I loved it! Overall this was funny, intelligent and endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I would definitely re-read this book.