Review: ‘The Romeo Catchers’ by Alys Arden

Blurb from GoodReads.com: 

Is blood thicker than magic in La Nouvelle-Orléans?

Tormented by the fate she condemned her mother to, and by the lies she’s forced to tell to cover it up, Adele scours Storm-ravaged New Orleans for the truth about her family’s magical past. But every turn leads her back to the one person she’s determined to forget: Niccolò Medici. Not even the multitude of enchanted locks on the attic door trapping Nicco within can break their connection.

Sensing Nicco calling to Adele, Isaac tries relentlessly to keep her from exploring paths too dark that would endanger them all. But a new threat is rising: the Medici’s presence has attracted something else to New Orleans…an older enemy, one that will bring Isaac’s haunted past to life, test the witches’ friendships, and jeopardize Adele and Isaac’s blossoming relationship.

In this spellbinding continuation of The Casquette Girls saga, Adele must draw on the past—from seventeenth-century Florence, a time bubbling with alchemy and fraternal betrayal—and sort history from fantasy if she is to have any chance of saving her mother, her coven, and her magic.

Review: 

Oh my jeeeeeezus, where do I even start with this one? How do I sum up such a riveting, mystical, magical, romantic, unique book? A book which had me GLUED from page one- even more so than its sultry, magic-infused predecessor, The Casquette Girls? This is the kind of book which will STAY with you, in a good way- it’s completely immersive, completely escapist wonderful writing, and yet at the same time, locations used throughout this book (e.g. the Bottom of the Cup Tearoom) are real places you can actually visit in New Orleans. Think of ‘The Romeo Catchers’ as a cross between Poppy Z. Brite’s ‘Lost Souls,’ ‘The Craft’ and ‘The Originals’– but BETTER. Tons better. Now to review it. Ok, so deep breath, here goes:

Things I LOVED about this book: 

  1. NEW ORLEANS: Can there be a better setting for a witchy vampire-y magic-y novel? I THINK NOT. ‘Nawlins’ is practically a character in its own right, and with good reason- this is the kind of novel that makes you want to book a one-way ticket there.
  2. ISAAC, Adele’s love interest. (And yes, his name goes in capitals because he is an utter bae, and also my Book Boyfriend of the Month.) I adore you. I ship you with Adele so hard. You are a perfect slightly angsty cinnamon bun and YOU MUST BE with Adele, but if you can’t be with Adele, then please be with me instead. Gotta get myself a silver feather necklace so that I can pretend you gave it to me as a token of our undying eternal love. *Sighs* *Fans self*
  3.  DESIREE: Oh, Desiree, you were badass in ‘The Casquette Girls’ and even more badass here. I heart your style and your witty one-liners. I also think your voodoo-shop owning gran is an utter legend. More graveyard seances with Desiree please.
  4. ADELE: To be honest, at points, I found Adele annoying (especially her constant arguing with Isaac- who is perfect- and her fixation with creeptastic vampire predator Nicco- uh, why??) but I loved her cool, 90s-infused style (silver talisman necklaces, dresses she customizes herself, Docs,) her part-time job in a cafe- don’t know quite why, just loved the setting and the descriptions- her sketching and her research into her ancestor’s diary. (Which is not apparently a grimoire- kinda confusing, but anyway…)
  5. THAT SCENE WITH ADELE AND ISAAC ON THE ‘SS HOPE’: Fellow TRC readers will know what I’m talking about- what a brilliant, romantic, wonderful scene. (*Takes cold shower.*)
  6. REN: (SPOILER) My lovely, exuberant tour guide Ren kind of goes to the dark side in TRC, and starts acting all cray-cray and kissing girls even though everyone knows his love for boyfriend Theis is the real deal. I still love him and his pirate vibe though. I’d love to be on one of his tours.
  7. THEIS: Speaking of Theis…how cool is it to have a normal dude- albeit with a love for vampires and implanted fangs- in a committed, loving relationship with another guy (aka Ren of course.) I love how ‘normal’ this was represented, and how they love each other in their own kooky kind of way. I totally ship Ren and Theis, and would actually have loved to have seen Theis more in TRC- he’s such an individual.
  8. (SPOILER): The Maleficiums. (I think I spelt that right.) These are magical tattoos that every witch gets when they come into their power, and only they and other witches can see them. This was SUCH a cool idea, and I wish they’d been described more, as I can actually see them taking off into a cult kind of way, and people getting them in real life, like the amazing Shadowhunters fans who have tattoos of Shadowhunter runes. Desiree’s, by the way, is lime green 🙂
  9. MAC: Adele’s dad is still a metalsmith, and still cool. Fact.
  10. Ghosts: Ghosts and the spirit world are everywhere in TRC and it gives the whole novel an edgy, eerie, rather uncanny vibe- especially as they interact with humans. I’ve heard the tragic and utterly romantic story of Miss Julie’s ghost before, but really like Arden’s take on it.
  11. Loved Callis’s atmospheric entrance into the story (he wanders into Adele’s cafe in a rain-soaked New Orleans and immediately I loved his rockstar style and his guy liner, ha.)
  12. Everyone seems to dress and act like they’re in a cleaner, less graphic version of Poppy Z Brite’s ‘Lost Souls.’ Trust me, though, that’s a good thing- the style in ‘Lost Souls’ is INSANE.

Things I was not so sure about: 

  1. ANNABELLE: Oh, for Gawd’s sake, is selfish, spoilt, vain, Queen Bee Annabelle still in this? Yes, yes, she is. Dammit.
  2. NICCO: Creepy, predatory, psychopathic, controlling, vindictive, scheming, parasitic…and still a love interest for Adele?? REALLY?? I’m #TeamIsaac all the way.
  3. Jeanne and Sebastian, the Daure brothers, Emilio…just way too many characters. And evil vamp Emilio was just way too pantominey for my liking. I did like Chatham Daure though. And horrible psychic Madam Morgana.
  4. Brigitte (or, How do you solve a problem like Brigitte?) (SPOILER): Adele spends a lot of the novel vowing to save her mother from the attic, but then doesn’t really do anything. Bit disappointing.
  5. Nicco’s dreams: As Nicco is utterly infuriating, these did not do anything for me. Luckily, he does spend a heck of a lot of time still locked up in the attic.
  6. Celestina: Callis’s little sister: dresses like the creepy twins from ‘The Shining,’ and yet (SPOILER) no one figures she’s a totally evil devil spawn. Makes sense.
  7. The scenes in Adele’s old school: again, these didn’t do much for me: I wanted more witchy coven scenes with Adele, Isaac and Desiree. The ‘humans’ in this novel felt a bit too bland.
  8. Where was the kooky drag queen waitress who served Adele and Nicco when they went for dinner together? I kind of missed her! 😦
  9. THAT ENDING: no spoilers, but it utterly broke my heart. Talk about a cliffhanger. *Gulp, sob*
All in all though, this book had me utterly hooked, and I will cause merry havoc if there isn’t a third novel on the way. Just READ THIS BOOK NOW. You won’t regret it. All Hail, Queen Arden! 
Overall rating: 10 out of 10! Woohoo!
This book in four words: Exciting. Riveting. Magical. Unique.
Favourite Character: Isaac
Read if you enjoyed: ‘Lost Souls’ by Poppy Z Brite, (which I also mention in my article on ‘Vampires and Scent,’) ‘The Vampire Lestat’ by Anne Rice.
Image from innovativequery on Tumblr
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