Title: The Lost Coast
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Genre: Fantasy, Literary, LGBTQ+
Date of Publication: May 14, 2019
The Lost Coast is a highly literary coming of age tale of a group of teenage witches, self-named the Grays. Their leader, Imogen, has gone missing, and they’ve tried nearly everything to find her. But when Danny moves to town, she brings with her a unique type of magic that might just be what they’re looking for, in more ways than one.
This book is beautifully written, and the words are like poetry on the page. It reminds me a little bit of a literary version of an 80s movie, with a bunch of lost kids trying to find their place in the world, but in this book, they’ve found their place–with each other.
There are many different points of view expressed throughout the book. We get a lot of chapters from Danny’s point of view, and others from the Grays’, but we also get the perspective of the other high school students, which provides context for why the Grays feel so out of place in their little, traditional town. To reinforce themes of magic in the book, Capetta occasionally provides the point of view of the trees and the ravens, which could be groan-worthy, but it somehow works.
Capetta doesn’t only jump points of view frequently, but she also jumps in time. We get to see what the characters were doing and feeling years earlier, weeks earlier, days earlier. Capetta takes the “show, don’t tell” approach quite literally with these flashbacks, and it works well in this story. While it could have been hard to follow, the transitions between timeline jumps are seamless. I almost feel like this style would have been better suited to a novel that has an element of time travel, but the back and forth really works to create a mystical, surreal feeling to the entire book.
You have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this book. It’s literary, not a plot-driven romantic-mystery. While it is a mystery and a romance, the emphasis is on the language, and Capetta effortlessly elicits strong emotions from readers with her careful word selection.
One complaint I do have is that the book didn’t quite feature enough magic for me. I love books that have a strong theology that the author has created, a way of magic that just is, but Capetta didn’t spend much time on this. It would have been acceptable if the magic of this world was simple, but Imogen, for instance, is highly powerful, and it would have been a stronger story had the limitations of magic been explained, or at least demonstrated for the readers.
Another issue I have with the book is that there are too many fascinating characters that don’t get enough attention because there are just so many of them. For instance, there’s a character named Emma Hart, and we meet her halfway through the book. Her storyline is heart wrenching and beautiful, and I wish that Capetta hadn’t included her in this book and instead written an entire book dedicated to her story. Instead, her backstory gets glossed over in a quick chapter. Even with other characters, Capetta barely has a chance to scratch the surface of who they are. There better be more books coming in this series!
I recommend this book to anyone looking for an exquisitely literary take on queer witches.
*Thank you to Candlewick and OLA Super Conference 2019 for the ARC for review*
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