Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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.
The Lost Coast was released May 14, so I extend many apologies for my belated review.
This book... you guys, look at that cover! It's so shiny and pretty and once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Part romance, part mystery, part celebration of queerness--The Lost Coast has it all. I'm having a hard time putting words together to describe how I felt when I was reading it.
First of all, Capetta absolutely struck the right balance between character and plot. I became so invested in the lives of Danny and the Grays, as well as their quest to save Imogen. The group dynamics drove this story, and I loved seeing Danny and the Grays interact and bond. What was especially interesting to me were the moments when the Grays chose to include or exclude Danny, who was at once an outsider and vital to their quest. She could find Imogen, but only if the Grays trusted and shared with her. I love a good squad forming, and this was perfect. Capetta is a master with words. Her descriptions of each of the Grays distinguishes them so quickly from each other. After only one chapter, I already felt like I knew all about them from their clothing, the way they touched and supported one another, and each of their relationships to Imogen. Seeing them relax and just exist in the woods, casually interacting with magic and the world around them was so heartwarming and freeing. Of course, they are still quintessential teens: they hide things, keep secrets, and take on too much alone. Later, seeing Danny herself interact with Imogen was emotional as well. I loved Danny setting aside everything to help her new friends, girls she felt she belonged with. All of the group scenes were so moving, and I loved the friendships in The Lost Coast. All of the characters were so complex and real.
Danny was a great narrator. Most of the chapters were from her POV, and I loved it. Her thoughts were so organic, and I wanted to get to know her. Watching her discover her magic, exploring her connection to Rush, and balancing her past with the new life she’s leading was all so natural. I especially enjoyed reading Danny’s thoughts about Rush—her temptation was tangible, and I loved how Capetta wrote their romance.
The pacing and plot were just as great as the character development. I liked how the mystery unfolded and connected with the elements of magic in the story. World-building is top-notch as well: I felt at home in the redwoods, and vivid descriptions helped me picture the landscape and feel a part of the scenery was with me as I read. I've been in the redwood forests, and they are absolutely the right setting for the magic in this story. The descriptions of the Grays interacting with the forest are breathtaking. Dense and lush, the atmosphere is quietly energetic and bleeds through the page. This novel is a very beautiful escape. Every sensory aspect is so clear, so even if the reader has never seen a forest, they know exactly how it feels to stare up at branches and leaves and want to climb among the needles. The energy surrounding the whole book makes it so easy to start reading and lose track of time. I liked how multiple POV was used to build the atmosphere and plot. The story is told in patches that are mostly chronological, so there is no info-dumping and I always had context for the events in the present. The redwoods also get a point of view, which adds to the sentiment of the forest as a living entity.
Some important themes of the book resonated with me, particularly about how power and emotion are tied to one’s effect on the universe. Magic is tied to intent as well as ability, and I liked the rule that whatever a witch does returns upon her threefold. Of course, as with all themes, the darker side is interesting as well. Finding the space to be seen and to be yourself is different from wanting attention, or to be noticed.
An epic conclusion drives home the importance of finding yourself and standing in the place where you belong. The Lost Coast is about embracing otherness and making people feel seen, as well. I felt that the story wraps up perfectly, and I am delighted that I don’t have any lingering questions. Overall, I give The Lost Coast 5/5 stars for its beauty. It is a powerful addition to Capetta's body of work, and I hope it earns a place on your shelf.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.