Title: The Lost Coast
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Released: May 14th 2019
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Magical Realism & LGBTQIA+
Goodreads Rating: 4.33 (of 9 ratings)
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The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.
Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Candlewick Press. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
Well. Well. It’s been exactly a week since I finished this book, and I’m still not quite sure what I read. I’m going to do my best to try to make sense, but mostly I’m just going to be confused and probably revert to one syllable words.
There were a couple of reasons I was SO excited for this book. Amy Rose Capetta’s book, The Brilliant Death, was a brilliant read in 2018, and one of the easiest fantasy books I’ve ever read. I was in deep. When I heard she was writing a book that involved possible murder, a coven of queer witches, and woods in California, I was SOLD. It sounded like the perfect storm of a good book, and I was pretty ready to take on magical realism.
Conclusion after reading this book: I, Book Princess Mandy, will never be ready to take on magical realism.
There were just things I did NOT get. I tried so hard, but it took me foreverrrrrr to figure some things out. It took me about 10 chapters to realize that Imogen wasn’t dead? I think in the first or second chapter, it is stated that Imogen is found with seaglass in her eyes, and well, I assumed that meant death? But then she popped up in the school hallway a few chapters later and I’m like OH, GHOSTIE NOVEL NOW??? YAY. Only to have to Sherlock out later on that she’s apparently walking around like a zombie?? MAYBE??? I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND IT.
And that’s the entire thing with this novel – I still don’t understand much of it. There were things that I got, but there are still SO SO many things that I don’t get. I kind of just sat there going, well, um, I’mma keep going and hope that makes sense, until I ran out of pages and nothing still didn’t make much sense. I’m still not really sure if it was the book or me or WHAT, but I really can’t elaborate on plot items, because like, IDKKKKK.
Plus, it would have helped a bit more to have a more structured narrative. Each short chapter would jump to something new – whether it was narrated by Danny, The Grays (as a collective), stories about two specific girls, birds, etc. There were moments that I really liked having this jump around, but sometimes it did leave me even more confused because it was so jumpy.
Characters-wise, I did really like Danny as a narrator. You feel her go through a journey in this novel, and find out where she belongs and how she fits in the world. Finding the Grays is like finding herself in the world, and you see her desperation and desire to be a part of something that she has longed for forever. I did really enjoy her as a main character, and she was messy and realistic. The other characters felt like they had a bit of haze around them, and I never got the full picture for them, but they were still intriguing and dynamic.
Capetta brings us such a wholly diverse group of characters as well. From bi to lesbian to gender fluid to ace, there was so much rep from these queer witches. There was also black and Filipino rep in the Grays along with fat rep. From all the Capetta books I’ve read, she is a master at creating such diverse characters that let so many readers find themselves in the pages that they might not have had the chance to a few years ago.
The last thing about this book was the mood/feeling. It is wholly engrossing and captivating. As you might have gotten, I didn’t have any clue what was going on at parts, but I still couldn’t stop reading. I imagine this book is like what you feel if you were feeling high. Like, that’s what I felt after I finished it. But when I was reading it, it certainly felt magical and like I was surrounded in fog on this lost coast.
3 crowns and a Belle rating. This was a wholly engrossing but also super confusing read. I think it might be in part with the fact that I struggle with magical realism, but other parts just confusion in general with the book. It did have its magical parts, and the diversity was amazinggggg.
So, what do you think? Do you love or struggle with magical realism books? Am I the only one that gets super confused? Let’s discuss in the comments below!