Title: The Casquette Girls
Author: Alys Arden
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
“After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne and her father are among the first to return. Adele wants nothing more than to resume her normal life, but with the silent city resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.
Strange events—even for New Orleans—lead Adele to an attic that has been sealed for three hundred years. The chaos she accidentally unleashes threatens not only her but also everyone she knows. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, Adele must untangle a web of magic that weaves the climbing murder rate back to her own ancestors. But who can you trust in a city where everyone has secrets and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless…you’re immortal.”
I should have posted my review a long time ago – this book was released in November, and I had the ARC for a month or so before then. But the truth is, I didn’t know what to say. This book sounds so intriguing from the synopsis: New Orleans! Magic! Secrets! I thought I’d be reading a post-Katrina version of American Horror Story: Coven. I thought, since the author herself is from New Orleans, there was little chance I wouldn’t love this story. Turns out, I couldn’t even force myself to finish it.
Welcome to DNF Diaries.
I’ve decided to start a new series of sorts on my blog, DNF Diaries, to discuss the books that I simply did not finish. I feel like DNFing books is still a slightly taboo topic in the book community, and many people think that once they start a book, they have to finish it. Life’s too short to read bad books, so I’m going to use this series as a means to have a more open forum about DNFing books, and what leads us to ultimately abandon a book.
For this first installment of DNF Diaries, I’m discussing The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden. Now, I had high hopes for this book. It’s published by Skyscape, Amazon’s self-publishing teen imprint that also put out the Penryn and the End of Days trilogy by Susan Ee. I’ll admit that I have my reservations about self-published novels, which is perhaps elitist of me, but nonetheless true. Unfortunately, this book didn’t change my opinions.
The Casquette Girls tells the story of Adele, who returns to New Orleans after The Storm (never actually named, but obviously meant to represent Hurricane Katrina) and uncovers secrets of the magical sort when she starts exploring in her attic and attending a new school.
The Good: I really enjoyed the concept of this story, and thought a YA novel about post-Katrina New Orleans would be brilliant. There is so much potential! So much of New Orleans’ history and culture is woven into the story in a way that isn’t all Mardi Gras and whatever tourists expect when they visit Louisiana. However…
The Bad: The author is from New Orleans, and she never lets you forget it. The reader is constantly beaten over the head with long, winding, and unnecessary exposition about the neighborhoods in the city, the street names, and how much Adele LOVES NEW ORLEANS OK SHE LOVES IT SO MUCH. This book is over 500 pages long and it felt like the vast majority of the first 200 were wasted in this manner.
The Ugly: The fact of the matter is that the writing is the biggest downfall. Characters are unbelievably written, with little to no personality between them except to fulfill recycled YA tropes. It’s the interaction between characters, however, that was especially unpleasant to read. Every conversation feels forced, like the author is just trying to connect plot points, and the way Adele converses with people is unrealistic at best. I made it to 25% of this novel and literally nothing had happened other than Adele waxing poetically about New Orleans and having contrived interactions with a handful of other characters.
You can probably see why I had to DNF this book. Nothing felt natural, or enjoyable, or gave me any hope for improvement as the story progressed. I had to quit at the 25% mark because I was so frustrated. As someone who experienced Hurricane Katrina and lived close to New Orleans, it’s disappointing that this book fell so short of my expectations. But ultimately, there are far better urban fantasy novels out there to read. I highly recommend you pick up any one of those instead, or watch AHS: Coven.
I hope you enjoyed this first installment of DNF Diaries! Let me know what it takes for you to DNF a book.
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.