I read this for my bookclub and we had our discussion last night where I found myself going to bat for it in a way I didn’t expect. I was both surprised that the other women weren’t on board with it and surprised at how invested in it I had turned out to be. This review might have been a little different if I’d written it yesterday, but context is everything.
I find horror as a genre fascinating but I hate being scared which means I’ve read the wikipedia summaries of a lot of horror films and that’s given me a passing familiarity with the genre and the way it tells stories. That background with horror broadly and gothic horror specifically gave me a context for this book that my book club may not have had. From the sound of it, they expected a more general historical fiction but between my understanding of the genre and having read Moreno-Garcia’s previous book, I was prepared for shit to get weird.
On to the book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so descriptive it got creepy, which to me was the point. I always love a hero who recognizes that they’re underestimated and uses it to their advantage. I loved the slow burn of “what the fuck is going on” only to be walloped with “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS” when it all unravels spectacularly.
I also don’t recall any book I’ve read recently that exists so heavily under the specter of implied male violence. Our hero, Noemí, does her best to push against the life prescribed for her, understanding the threat that always hangs in the air. But men who want to be violent will be violent and justify it after the fact, as they’ve done for centuries.
Anyway! I was a big fan, across the board. I own it, so it may be one I come back to in the future. It’s not a long book and it reads quickly. Between this and Gods of Jade and Shadow, Moreno-Garcia is an author I’ll continue to follow.