I had never heard of La Llorna until I got married. My husband who is Hispanic of course knew all about La Llorna and I absolutely fell in love with the Mexican ghost story. If you aren’t Hispanic you will likely be unfamiliar with the legend but you might be more familiar with the song La Llorna from the movie Coco! I am a big fan of horror and ghost stories and the folklore story really intrigued me so when this book came up for review, I had little hesitation before I screamed YES.
The horror or paranormal genre might not be for everyone and that’s ok. I know that I love a good ghost story and for me personally, I would rather read it in the fall when it’s the ‘spooky’ time of year, but I am usually up for a good ghost story any time truth be told! I read The Hacienda last year and absolutely loved it, after reading that book, the legend go La Llorna was the first thing on my mind. La Llorna isn’t a well known tale but it sure is creepy and I thought it would make for a great mainstream-ish story if executed properly.
Author V Castro has written other horror stories seeped in Mexican history and culture. If there was anyone who could make this story come alive, it’s Castro. I haven’t read any other books by her but I have seen Queen of the Cicadas around the blog-o-sphere and know that she has an established fan base. Needless to say I was thrilled to be asked to review this one and check out Castro’s storytelling style for myself!
A woman is haunted by the Mexican folk demon La Llorona as she unravels the dark secrets of her family history in this ravishing and provocative horror novel.
Alejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.
Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.
When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.
Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.
But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever. (summary from Goodreads)
When I first started this book, my first thought was—it feels short. The book comes in at just under 300 pages (270 ish) and for me, I feel like most novels tend to run around 320-350 pages and that feels a bit more adequate for character and plot development. However I know in the horror genre some of the books tend to run around 250-300 pages so this fits within that genre as far as length goes. Though I will say even if this book is short on pages, it really didn’t feel that way. This story has substance and things for readers to unpack and themes that many female readers will connect with. It read quickly but it didn’t feel short if that makes sense. The middle did seem to loose a little bit of steam but generally it was paced well and I enjoyed my time with this book.
The other thing that was a bit puzzling was, I thought this book was going to be about the actual La Llorona but it was actually about Alejandra so it was a little disorientating for me at first. But then I started reading Alejandra and got hooked into her story. I thought the main protagonist, Alejandra, was a very relatable main character especially for mothers. She is a full time stay at home mom who by all outward appearances should have the perfect life. Except she does’t. She has given up her own career in favor of her husband’s and she is struggling with a number of things. In our culture of social media I think many new mothers get sucked into believing people have the perfect lives and women can do it all—–but we don’t know the full story which is what makes Alejandra so compelling as the heroine. I could identify with her struggles in so many ways! We as women and mothers carry so much of the family emotional burden and it’s hard. I loved that this theme can carry over through cultures and ages of women because being a mother is hard!
This book was a little more light on the horror that I expected but still good. It had a lot to recommend itself when it came to the main character and it was creepy and haunting but I just expected more horror in a way but in looking back I still think it worked out ok for the book. I think die hard horror fans might want more horror but if horror isn’t really your genre but maybe you like ghost stories then I think you will find a lot to enjoy in this one. I am eager to read more by this author, I really loved the blending of culture into this novel and it felt different and exciting. It’s out now so take a look and see if this book is something you might enjoy!
Book Info and Rating
Format 272 pages, Hardcover
Expected publication April 18, 2023 by Del Rey
ISBN 9780593499696 (ISBN10: 0593499697)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Del Rey, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: horror, paranormal