The Lost Coast is the perfect book for the readers who have been looking for an f/f, not as male-dominated Raven Cycle. It’s an atmospheric story set in a small town surrounded by magical redwoods, following a group of queer witches.
And I loved all of it.
The first thing I thought when I finished this book is that sometimes, stories that acknowledge your pain but aren’t shaped around it are exactly what you need. I’ve read many contemporary books that dealt directly with homophobia and so contained a lot of it, and ones that ignored its existence entirely. But the contemporary-set stories I want are the ones that don’t ignore homophobia exists, and that have little to none of it anyway. Stories that aren’t about the queer experience, but that are relevant to it anyway, not just because of the characters’ identities, but also because of the themes they deal with.
The Lost Coast is a story about how much difference having a community and finding your people can make, even before you have found yourself and your own power. It’s a story that has a sense of recklessness to it, but also reminds you how important it is to have others to ground you. On the other side, it’s a story about how not wanting to find or acknowledge your own power leads you to not notice your ability to do harm, and makes you dangerous.
I won’t lie, I knew I would love this book from the moment the main character first sees the redwoods and is fascinated by them. (You really can’t go wrong with trees.) That mix of awe and longing and a little bit of fear – that’s something I’m familiar with. The atmosphere made me feel as if I were right there, and made the woods feel magical, so that when the book got to that one sex scene in the woods, my only reaction wasn’t “you’re so going to get ticks” (even though I still thought it; but oh well, it’s contemporary fantasy).
The writing is also really good. I think the vague, airy tone that Capetta’s writing has is much better suited to this multi-PoV non-linear contemporary fantasy novel than it was to a mystery like Echo After Echo, in which it didn’t work at all for me.
It’s not easy to develop many characters in a standalone that is shorter than 400 pages, but this book did it. All the Grays (which I kept wanting to call “the Gays”) are well-drawn, and so are their dynamics – they’re all in love with each other and you can feel that.
🌲 Danny, white, queer. She’s the new girl in town, and she’s looking for something, even though she doesn’t know what that something (someone?) is yet. She tends to wander, and I mean that physically. As I said, her emotions toward trees were very relatable.
🌲 Rush, white, fat, queer. She’s coded as neurodivergent, she has sound-taste synesthesia (I love reading about synesthesia. My brain does similar weird things too), and her magic comes from music. At the beginning of the story, she’s looking for her lost ex-girlfriend.
🌲 Hawthorn, black, bisexual with a preference for men. She’s quiet and bookish, but no one should let that mislead them – she’s the source of Witch Knowledge™ in the group and not to be understated.
🌲 June, “femme as fuck” lesbian, Filipina. Has chronic leg pain. Looks soft but will fight you and win (after all, she is the one with knife magic). She has a big family and it’s said that she was raised Catholic and is questioning her faith. I loved her.
🌲 Lelia, gray-ace, non-binary (she/her). Sharp and sarcastic but secretly soft. She says she doesn’t want to date, so I also read her as aro (but I wish this book had specified if she was or not), and she’s the “resident tree expert”, and isn’t that relatable
🌲 Then there’s Imogen, the mysterious, powerful water witch who was once part of the Grays, and is now missing.
I loved most of this book, but I’m not giving it a full five stars, because there were some things that didn’t work for me. The sex scene had a simile that made me cringe so much that it deserves a mention (please don’t compare body parts to books), and I don’t really know how I feel about the ending. On one hand, I get why the author chose to leave this book open-ended, but… I wanted to know how the characters would deal with some Things that had happened. Especially since the ending hints at f/f/f polyamory.
My rating: ★★★★¾