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Texas Gothic (review)
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Reviewed by
Clement-Moore, Rosemary. Texas Gothic. Delacorte, 2011. [416p]. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-385-90636-4 $20.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-385-73693-0 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-89810-5 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12.

Although she comes from a long line of benevolent witches, Amy fights hard against her heritage, hiding her family's activities behind lies and sarcasm. She herself has an aptitude for dealing with ghosts, but she's denied this ability ever since a childhood [End Page 513] incident with a river spirit nearly resulted in her sister Phin's death. Now she and Phin are ranch-sitting for their aunt, and Amy's been suckered into taking care of the ghost on the property by mishearing her aunt's plea that she take care of the goats and making a binding oath to do so. Her dismay at her situation is punctuated by her fierce attraction to Ben, the grumpy, infuriating cowboy next door, and her sister's blithe disregard for maintaining any semblance of normalcy; unlike Amy, Phin is deeply into the science of the supernatural, studying the physics of the paranormal and experimenting with gadgets to capture coronal auras. Working with a team of forensic anthropologists, some of whom are open to Phin's techniques and some not, the girls sort out the ghostly activity from the all-too-human corruption that plagues Ben's and their aunt's ranches. A deeply affectionate rendering of Texas landscapes and legends combines with an appealing cast of well-developed characters to give texture to this well-plotted mystery; truly scary moments are balanced by the humorous bumbles of the awkwardly developing romance between Amy and Ben, as well as Phin's sublime cluelessness about the way her eccentricities appear to other people. The mystery itself is a richly imagined interpolation on documented history and lore of the area; readers who've outgrown the silliness but not the adventure of Scooby-Doo will thoroughly enjoy this.

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