Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore is a YA (young adult) paranormal novel first published in 2011.
Full disclosure – I’m cheating a little bit with this post because I didn’t actually read this book for the first time in these past couple of weeks. I actually first read this book about six years ago and it quickly became one of my favourites. Between work and the holiday season right now I really have been too tired to focus on anything new so, I did what I usually do and I found something comfortable to re-read.
My copy of Texas Gothic has a cracked spine and the pages are definitely not as crisp as they used to be but, even on my book shelves there aren’t that many books I’ve bought new that have reached that stage of life. It only comes from re-reading and as nice as it is to see fresh pages it’s also nice to be faced with gently worn edges now and again.
Texas Gothic may make me jump out of chair at times – the first time that I read the book I was on my own in the house and I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. It turned out that it was just my neighbour moving around outside but I was so absorbed by the book that it still freaked me out at the time, haha – but it did become one of my favourite reads very quickly.
The book is a little bit spooky, sometimes funny and full of great quotes. One of which is the opening line:
The goat was in the tree again.
Simple, fun and intriguing. It’s exactly the kind of casual hook that I aspire to in my own writing, because coming up with a first line is never as easy as you’d like it to be in my experience. Brilliant.
I might’ve mentioned (it’s even more likely if you know me in person) that I grew a bit… bored with YA fiction a few years back but, this book is definitely not off my favourites list just because it falls under that category. Rosemary Clement-Moore is almost eerily good at creating an atmosphere that draws you in – I felt the same way when I read her book The Splendor Falls and I hope that I’ll get the chance to read Spirit and Dust at some point (when I eventually remember to actually go and get it).
Obviously, being a paranormal novel with a bit of a gothic vibe it jumps the bounds of reality but, there’s something very grounded about the characters despite their involvement with ghosts and magic. Amy, in particular, tries very hard to ignore her family legacy because she wants to be ‘normal’ – possibly one of the biggest staples/concepts in YA writing – but it does provide something relatable for the reader since that most people wrestle with the concept of difference and conformity.
The book is written in first person p.o.v. and we see the events of the story unfold via Amy. She may not be the most graceful girl, which makes her rather hilarious for the reader, but she’s also rather pragmatic about herself and others even in the face of absurd circumstances – page 14 is a great example. Due to this p.o.v. we also meet all of the other characters, including her sister Phin, as Amy sees them. I’ve got to say that I’m a big fan of Phin and one of my favourite moments between the two sisters happens on page 58 of the book.
When it comes to other characters in the book, I’ve got to be honest that I was always a bit ‘meh’ about Ben. I didn’t object to him being Amy’s love interest but he just didn’t seem as interesting or quirky (despite the obvious ‘cowboy’ aspect) as Phin or some of the other minor characters who tagged along. I think, in my own mind, it’s one of those YA symptoms where you know what to expect so you just tick it off as being there and move on.
As for the overall plot, it’s both typical and atypical of what I used to read at the time when I first picked the book up. I was reading a fair amount of paranormal fantasy at the time, not just YA, but I’ve never really been the kind of person who liked to be scared just for the sake of being scared. However, Texas Gothic does give me the heebie-jeebies a bit because there’s a lot of spooky and dangerous encounters for the characters. It’s never put me off reading the book though and I’m glad that it doesn’t. The writer part of myself wants a reader to actually feel something in response to my work because, as a reader, it’s the reason why I keep turning the page.
For me, Texas Gothic is a great read for when I want to put up my feet and stay curled up in the corner for a while with a blanket and a big mug of hot chocolate – one of my favourites feelings in this world.