I have to admit, I didn't have high hopes for Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore. The description on the back included witches, cowboys, and ghosts. I started flipping through it, though, and immediately recognized it for what it was. It was like home, something comforting from my childhood.
YA wasn't a big thing when I was a teen, and probably most of the YA I read was cheesy teen horror stories by Diane Hoh, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and Christopher Pike (Pike being the high end of the bunch). If you're my age, you know exactly the books I'm talking about, especially the embossed covers with more than their share of neon colors. (Cusick's Vampire was a particular favorite of mine.) These books were easy to read and almost felt like an episode of Scooby Doo (more bad guys being unmasked at the end, less talking dogs and stoners... well, sometimes there were stoners). There was always danger, but never too much to worry about, and the main girl (it was always a girl) used a little Nancy Drew sleuthing to figure out what was going on.
And that's exactly what I found in Texas Gothic. In fact, Nancy Drew is referenced a number of times, so Clement-Moore is obviously a fan of the genre herself. And for this particular sub-genre, the book is well-written, fast-paced, and highly enjoyable. I've seen enough of Texas to understand the environment perfectly, and the Hot Cowboy Neighbor (that might as well be his name) was the right mix of annoying and attractive. I loved the addition of real magic - the main character's family are all real witches, as much as she tries to stay out of that life - gave the story a little more body than others like it.
Is this fine literature? No. But that wasn't exactly what I was looking for on a quiet beach weekend. The high entertainment value of Texas Gothic makes it fun for any horror- or mystery-loving teen (or nostalgic adult). Bonus points for this being a self-contained story as well.