Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (2011) : ISBN 9780375898105 (Random House)
When something is termed “Gothic”, many classic tropes spring to mind. With Texas Gothic, brooding heroes are replaced by cranky cowboys, shadowed moors by the Hill Country of central Texas, and all are haunted by unruly ghosts and unsettled secrets. Rosemary-Clement Moore not only gives the form a distinctly Texan twist, but infuses it a great deal of fun.
Amy Goodnight considers herself the gatekeeper between her eccentric family and the rest of the world. The Goodnights have long delved into the paranormal, from hedge magic to clairvoyance and all points in between. Amy, as the one person in her family with no apparent supernatural talent, seeks to bridge the gap and keep the “real world” and the Goodnights from mingling too much–to both sides’ benefit. However, when she and her sister Phin are called upon to ranch-sit for their aunt Hyacinth, Amy finds herself caught up in family feuds and ancient ghosts while entangling herself in the life of her handsome, yet preternaturally cranky, neighbor, Ben McCulloch. Before long, Amy’s ability to keep the two aspects of her life apart is sorely tested.
If one word can be used to describe this novel, it would be fun. The characters are so cute you want to put them in your pocket. The dialog crackles. Plus, as someone who spent a great deal of his childhood in central Texas, the setting shines with authenticity. For thrills there are ghosts, ancient legends, and lost Spanish gold. While there is romance, it is not of the tragic (and tiresome), Brontë-esque variety but cut from the classic Tracy-and-Hepburn mold. There are also secrets aplenty that crank up the suspense as the story rolls to its inevitable climax. Sure, you know where the road is going to take you, but it is so much fun getting there. All of these aspects make Texas Gothic a refreshingly fun novel that rolls along like a scenic Hill Country road.
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