Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

The only one without an ounce of magical affinity in a family of witches, Amy Goodnight has spent her whole life keeping the lines firmly drawn between her, erm, quirky family and the rest of the world.  Regular people and magic just don't mix well.  Which is why ranch-sitting in Texas for Aunt Hyacinth for the summer with her sister Phin sounds perfect, and just like something normal people would do.  Unfortunately, normal isn't exactly what Amy's projecting when she runs into gorgeous cowboy-on-a-horse Ben McCulloch - in her underwear, chasing a cow away from her Mini Cooper.  Good thing Ben turns out to be a huge jerk with a big chip on his shoulder, especially when it comes to the Goodnights and Goodnight Farm, ghosts and magic.  Even if he is smokin' hot.

Amy's plan to avoid Ben McCulloch for the rest of the summer doesn't last long.  Rumors are swirling about a ghost, the Mad Monk, that haunts the McCulloch ranch, and it seems he's angry about the recent discovery of human bones by the river, if the strange night noises, the number of fences down and ranch hands bashed on the head is any indication.  Amy is horrified, but Phin can't resist the chance to try out some of her experimental spectral equipment and manages to wrangle an invite to the dig site from Mark, one of the anthropology students working at the dig.  Ben is far from pleased to see the Goodnight sisters on his ranch - especially when Amy discovers there is more than one skeleton buried on McCulloch ranch.

Top all that off with the fact that Amy seems to be haunted by the Mad Monk, and she's having a decidely not normal summer.  He first shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night, an unearthly blue column of light that sucks the warmth from her bones and the breath from her lungs.  Which is odd, because no ghost should be able to make it past Aunt Hyacinth's protection wards.  But when the ghost commandes Amy to look for him, she must make a choice - break her own rules, dive headfirst into the spectral world and help the ghost (even though he keeps trying to freeze her to death)? Or stay permenently attached to the Mad Monk?

With the help of an enthusiastic Phin, a reluctant, supercranky Ben, Ben's cantankerous grandfather, Mark and the rest of the University of Texas dig team, Aunt Hyacinth's dogs, and a herd of unruly goats, Amy dives straight into the mystery of what's really going down at the McCulloch Ranch.  Who was her ghost?  Are his bones buried at the dig site?  Is he the Mad Monk?  And why the heck does she want to smack Ben and kiss him at the same time?

Amy Goodnight is straight-up awesome.  She's Nancy Drew with attitude - feisty, fun, snarky, smart and tough, she doesn't hesistate to deal with ghosts, her flaky big sister's obliviousness to reality (or at least other people's idea of reality), a crankypants cowboy, escape artist goats, and some seriously epic family rivalry.  Texas Gothic is a delicious summer mystery that'll make you laugh, the hairs on your neck stand on end, and turn pages faster than you can fall into a Texas sinkhole at night.  Check it out @ the library!

(who just finished the hoodoo fudge of a book that was The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch!  Katie did too - look for her review soon!)