So…I think I’m a little obsessed with queer witches. And small towns. And creepy forests. So when I heard about The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta, I was instantly sold.
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.
Trigger warnings: on-page sexual content, death, murder, homophobia (challenged)
I absolutely adored this book. However, I do not think that it will be for everyone, and I can totally understand why some people might not get on with it at all.
I don’t think I can put into words all the different things that made me love this book. I thought that the writing was so beautiful and eerie, and it perfectly matched the gloom and mist of the Californian woods. I felt that the atmosphere is what really drove the book, rather than a strict plot. (If you’re someone who wants a tightly-structured plot, this is not the book for you.) There were also lots of different points of view, including ones that could have been gimmick-y from a less talented author, including crows and trees. I really enjoyed these other voices, as they added to the almost ephemeral tone of the novel. However, you really had to pay attention to the chapter headings when it says what character is narrating!
“I’ve found the heart of another secret: the Grays are always touching and kissing each other because so many before us couldn’t. Each kiss carries the weight of so many kisses that never were. Every touch is an invisible battle won.”
There are loads of characters – I would maybe say that there were one or two more characters than I could really keep track of, but they each were really diverse and interesting.
Our main characters included:
Danny, white, queer. She was the main character, and her lack of knowledge of magic and the Grays made her a really great character who could ask questions on the reader’s behalf.
Rush, white, fat, queer. She has sound-taste synesthesia which is part of her magic! She is also Danny’s love-interest, and Imogen’s ex-girlfriend.
Hawthorn, black, bisexual with a preference for men. She knows the most about magic, and kind-of acts as a guide for all the Grays.
June, lesbian, Filipina. Has chronic leg pain from an accident. She was really cool (and had a big-ass knife) and had an interesting narrative regarding her questioning her faith, but she didn’t get a lot of page-time.
Lelia, gray-ace, non-binary (she/her). Our sarcastic tree expert! Again, had very limited page-time. It is hinted that she might also be aromantic, but it wasn’t made very clear.
Because there were so many characters who didn’t get as much page-time as they probably deserved, I would love for Amy Rose Capetta to write more books in this world, perhaps following each of the Grays. I would also be super interested in reading more about the different generations of witches (as Hawthorn’s mom is also a witch), and the polyamorous elements that are hinted at throughout the book. In short – there’s a lot of world left unexplored! Rather than frustrating me though, that just makes me really excited. I’m one of those readers that doesn’t really want everything laid out meticulously in front of me – I want to slowly explore the witchy world of Tempest, California.
I would love to read more from Amy Rose Capetta, but unfortunately for me, her other books don’t really appeal to me – Once and Future seems a bit too sci-fi for my liking, and The Brilliant Death a bit too high fantasy. I’ll maybe try Echo After Echo. A sapphic romance in the theatre, with a smattering of murder? Yeah, that sounds pretty good.