I always think I should read more magic realism–it would probably be a great gateway drug for me to read more fiction (not that there is anything wrong with reading genres that give you joy! down the drab hegemony that insists you must only read boring Pretentious Literature that is impossible to parse and full of unhappy people doing unhappy things). It would also probably be a great way for me to read more Latin American/South American/Mexican/Latin(e)(x) literature, because–for reasons I do not know, and would love to be educated on–a lot of literature that falls under this category seems to be of that origin?
IN ANY CASE, this novel definitely falls into that category, and for all that it took me a while to get through I really did enjoy it and found it more enthralling the further into it I got. Do not be fooled: this is straight, full on, magic realism, with heavy emphasis on magic. One shouldn’t be surprised because the book starts with Orquídea Divina turning into a tree and calling her extended family to her, so it’s not like you’re going to be wondering where things are going from there.
Little buds/flowers growing out of necks (shudder), circuses of wonder, flipping between two (and only two!) timelines–all the standard tropes of the genre are here, but for what it’s worth Córdova does it well. You find yourself enjoying the intertwining story lines of each of the family members, and rooting for them (heh) to band together and purge the shadow that has been plaguing Orquídea her entire life. The feeling of the story draws you in, more so than the plot, and holds you in a way that makes all the magic seem real and reasonable. I can’t say that the logic of the magic is super consistent, but that’s not why you read a book like this. You read it for the intergenerational family stories, and to see how not even magic can change the fundamental nature of the ties that bind.