📚 The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

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The Casquette Girls #1

Description⎮Reviewed Jul. 2016

Narrator: Kate Rudd
Length: 17h 39m
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2015

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ Story-wise, The Casquette Girls audiobook ranks somewhere between 4.5 and 4.75 stars. Certain elements of the story deserve a 4.75 star rating, like the world-building/atmosphere development and the use of culture to enhance the richness of the tale.

For me, that was the best part about The Casquette Girls. I wasn’t at all shocked to find out that Alys Arden grew up in New Orleans because she wrote about the city and its culture(s) with the knowledge and ardor that can only come from an insider. The way she continuously described the city and its layout invited to the reader to mentally walk the streets of La Nouvelle-Orléans with the main character, Adele.

I also relished in the numerous French phrases scattered throughout the book. They definitely added a lot to the story’s overall atmosphere and reflected New Orleans’ je ne sais quois most appropriately. A working knowledge of the French language would be helpful while enjoying this story. But don’t worry if you haven’t got one, you probably will have by the end of the book!

My other favorite aspect of The Casquette Girls was its legendary basis. This is a fictitious story, based on a real legend. The fille à la cassette (Casket/Casquette Girls) did actually exist and have been the subject of much lore, especially in Louisiana, since the 18th century.

That fact acting as the backbone of this novel is what sets it apart from other vampire fiction. I frequently bemoan the (over)use of vampiric characters, specifically vampire boyfriends because I feel that they are often unnecessarily and indiscriminately thrown into a plot (any plot) for cheap thrills. This practice, especially in young adult fiction, had very nearly soured my opinion on vampire literature altogether. That’s why I owe Alys Arden a debt of gratitude for reminding me that vampire fiction can still be enjoyable, when done correctly.

Arden’s vampires struck me as more “Prince Lestat” than “Edward Cullen”, darker, meaner, and more dangerous. You know, like an actual vampire. Excuse me, but they aren’t meant to be cuddly. That, combined with the New Orleans setting, was very reminiscent of the CW’s hit show “The Originals”.

The characters and the romance put the story more on the 4.5 star-ish side of things. Adele (the MC) struck me as a tad bit vexing and as someone who consistently failed to see what was right in front of her face, sometimes making my “suspension of disbelief” hard to sustain. I actually preferred Desirée (in the female side role?) to Adele. I was fine with the other characters, except Isaac (bleck!), and very much enjoyed the cultural diversity they represented.

There were hints of romance, some of which I was into and some of which I was not. I’m very, very peculiar about how romances are written and my usual stance is: Leave it to the Romance-genre writers. I didn’t start this audiobook looking for an epic love story, vampire or otherwise. I wasn’t terribly taken with the suggestions of romance in this story and, thankfully, Arden was kind enough not to put a romance in centerstage.

Narration review: Kate Rudd is a consistently great narrator. I’ve lost count of how many of her audiobooks I’ve heard, but I’ve come to consider her a “sure thing” for pleasing narration. She certainly had her work cut out for her narrating this audiobook, with the many bits of foreign languages strewn throughout and with such a diverse cast of characters. I’m happy to report that she handled this all with aplomb! This was a very positive listening experience, but I do think this series would have benefited from a few audio enhancements (sound effects, etc.), similar to what I have heard in the Caster Chronicles and The Raven Cycle audio series. ♣︎

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