The Haunting of Alejandra by V Castro
|The Haunting of Alejandra by V Castro|
|Reviewer: Olivia Tierney|
|Summary: A blend of horror, folklore and a woman fighting to reclaim her identify, The Haunting of Alejandra centres around the latter theme. Short and startling, Vastro's latest novel is an easy autumn book to pick up and enjoy.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 320||Date: October 2023|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
This was a part of her past that had to stop with her. She would be the one to confront this.
At some point during her life, Alejandra lost herself. She feels as if she is playing parts for others in her life – her husband and her children – without ever giving any thought to her own desires, her own future, her own identity. Day by day she goes through quotient motions without anyone seeing that there is something fundamentally wrong. For invisible to all but Alejandra, there is a darkness threatening to consume her. More and more she is visited by a ghost, a weeping woman in a fraying white gown dripping with water, who leaves distress in her wake.
Without anyone else to turn to, Alejandra visits a therapist with whom she begins to delve into her family's history. And as she glimpses into the lives of the women of her family, she discovers that the madness and sorrow that plagues her, is something old and deep rooted.
For La Llorona, the vicious and vengeful mother from the infamous Mexican legend, has haunted Alejandra's family for centuries. And when she begins to torment Alejandra's children, it will take every last morsel of Alejandra's strength and cunning to banish their ancestral curse forever for the curse and the creature enveloped within will stop at nothing to survive.
The concept of The Haunting of Alejandra is very intriguing. The idea of following multigenerational trauma embedded within the folklore of La Llorona is novel and unique. The strongest part of the book is how this aspect blends seamlessly with Alejandra's personal journey. V Castro's skill in magical realism is impressive and elegantly refined. The plot was wonderfully crafted and the words, the language, the staging makes it all very believable and very real.
I also thought the novel was a great length. I always think that short books pack more of a punch than great tomes which have so many different threads that means several easily get lost. The Haunting of Alejandra is a short, quick read that is all the more striking and compelling because of it. Castro's descriptions are vivid – and at times startling – expertly augmenting the emotion that is woven through Alejandra's voice. The pacing of shorter novels require more care and caution and Castro's latest is well aware of these needs.
What lowered my rating was the difference in expectation. I thought The Haunting of Alejandra was going to be more gothic with a stronger Mexican culture theme. I have to confess that I was slightly disappointed that the story revolved predominantly around reality rather than fantasy. The central themes of marriage and identity are important and suit the story well but for me – a bigger fan of the fantastical over the mundane – I was also yearning for more depth to the story.
This is very much a story of a woman reclaiming her life and emboldening herself with the courage to start anew woven loosely with the supernatural of a curse and a ghost. And not a horror or fantasy novel featuring a coming-of-age character arc. Thus, if it's the latter you want and / or are expecting you will very much enjoy Castro's latest.
Whilst I did enjoy the extra dimensions to the story chronicling the stories of Alejandra's ancestors, it felt as if the reader was given only a favour of their story. I would have loved for these to be explored further with more overlap between them to ensure they flowed better rather than them being read like small stories.
Blending Mexican folklore with horror and revolving around an ancient curse and a malevolent spirit, The Haunting of Alejandra would be a great book to read this October. One that at times will make your skin crawl. Perfect for those who wish for a women's fiction book with themes of fantasy and horror which is easy to read.
Many thanks to the publishers for providing the Bookbag with a copy to review!
In terms of further reading, earlier in the year the Bookbag had the privilege of reviewing The Trees Grew Because I Bled There by Eric LaRocca a collection of short stories all of which are horrifically beautiful. Descriptive, emotive and compelling, LaRocca unearths horrors rooted in reality. Perfect reading for horror fans and those seeking something specially for Halloween.
Alternatively, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson remains a classic for a number of very good reasons. It's gothic horror at its very suspenseful best! One to definitely read if you haven't yet.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Haunting of Alejandra by V Castro at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Haunting of Alejandra by V Castro at Amazon.com.
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