Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

Series:     Casquette Girls #1
Pub. Date:Dec. 29, 2015
Publisher:Brilliance Audio
Narrator:Kate Rudd
Length:17 hrs 39 min
Source:Kindle Unlimited

I really love what Alys Arden did here, taking the myths, legends and history of New Orleans and expounding upon it in a modern-day paranormal story. The Casquette Girls is an amalgamation of the city's vampire legend mixed with the history of les filles a la cassette at Ursuline Convent, brought back to life in post-Katrina New Orleans. 

Adele Le Moyne has returned home two months after Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches destroyed the city. Coming back to the city is disheartening and eye-opening at turns for Adele. She is devastated to see the state of the city she loves, but coming back has somehow awakened magical powers within her. After Adele and friends accidentally break a century-old curse, it will be up to them to save the city and their loved ones from death by exsanguination. While the main narrative of the story is told by Adele, a second narrative emerges from Adele's ancestor - Adeline St. Germain. I actually preferred Adeline to Adele, as her story and travel to America with the Casquette Girls was captivating.

There are a number of secondary characters that play a role in this story... from classmates to aid workers to foreigners to the city. I didn't care as much for the young adult characters as I did for the eccentric city residents that make New Orleans special. When Adeline was narrating, she brought some interesting secondary characters to the tale - twin orphans, servants, former slaves, and the like. I found these secondary characters to be captivating and loved hearing the story of their voyage and life in early La Nouvelle-Orléans.

The focus of this story was not romance, but Adele was wrapped in a bit of a love triangle (without any heat). It was full of angst and wishy washy feelings typical for a teenager, and I'm not sure I liked who came out on top of that situation. I had a hard time believing one corner of the triangle was interested in our teenage heroine, and that threw me out of the story when he was in the picture. And the other guy needed to be developed more to create some kind of emotional connection to his character.

New Orleans featured so heavily in this book that it was really a character in itself, and that was my favorite aspect of the story. The post-storm setting was interesting and I can imagine people ghosting around the Quarter to avoid the curfew and setting up clandestine drinking establishments a la the Prohibition era. I wasn't as captivated by the plot or characters, and the paranormal aspects lacked cohesion for me. The awakening of powers for Adele and her friends was a weak spot, and the history of the vampires unfolded so slowly that I got a bit aggravated. The story started to drag and my mind would wander away from the audio performance.

I did enjoy the story if only for the "ghost tour" feel and the history of the city. I recommend this book to New Orleanians and fans of the city.  This book was available via Kindle Unlimited as of the date this review was posted.