Book Review: 'The Casquette Girls' by Alys Arden

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Book Review: 'The Casquette Girls' by Alys Arden

The Caquette Girls by Alys Arden is a fantasy novel about vampires and witches in modern day New Orleans. It has a strong sense of place, using a great hurricane, known as the Storm, to document the unique facets of the city, particularly the French Quarter where the protagonist Adele has lived for most of her life. Adele is a fifteen-year-old girl, who has returned to the city with her father after the devastation wrought by “the Storm”. The fear that her father will send her back to Paris, to live with her mother, due to the lack of operational schools left in New Orleans, allowed me to sympathize with her. Rather than coming off as entitled or unrealistic, her distant relationship with her mother, combined with her love of her father and the city, helped develop the character. Although Adele has not had many dealings with the supernatural before the plot line of The Caquette Girls, her adaption to her new reality works well after she discovers unexplained dead bodies and develops magical powers of manipulating light and fire. Her work to translate her ancestor’s, Adeline’s diary from French, helps introduce the back story of Europeans vampires’ travels to New France in 1728. Adele and her friends Désirée and Isaac, who also have magical abilities, find themselves involved in a supernatural fight for the survival of their hometown. This section, documenting Adele’s first look at the devastation that the Storm had caused to the city she loves, shows Adren’s use of specific details. 

“The streets in New Orleans had already been some of the worst in the country before the Storm, but now there were potholes that could swallow a small car. The massive roots of two hundred- year-old oak trees had torn through the sidewalks like rippling waves, and the fallen trees now lay lifelessly against houses. Overturned SUVs, boats, broken glass and mountains of unidentifiable debris caused the roads to appear as if they hadn’t been driven on for decades. Nothing seemed to have escaped the fury of the Storm.I stared hard out the windshield, trying to figure out what was out of place, and then horrorstruck me: I was looking at a house that the Storm had moved to the opposite side of the street, as if some omnipotent giant's finger had slid it like a toy. By some miracle it was still standing, but it appeared so fragile that the weight of a resting bird might have caused the whole thing to collapse. We bumped in our seats as the car went over the crumbled slab smeared across the road behind it.”

The format of switching back and forth between Adele’s modern story and the back story of 1728, told by her translations, provides good pacing and introduces both the characters and readers to the situation. The rich detail documenting the city and its eccentric inhabits provided me with a sense of what the teens were fighting for. The introduction of the supernatural elements is slow, allowing us to grown with the characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good supernatural story. The plot realistically provides a reason as to why young teens have to fight the vampires, as opposed to someone older. Although at times Adele is naïve, she learns and grows with the story, eventually realizing that protecting the people of New Orleans is her ultimate priority and not to trust vampires.