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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.
Alejandra, the main character in V. Castro’s newest novel The Haunting of Alejandra, is dissatisfied with her life. With three kids and a husband who makes enough money and has the mindset that she can be a stay-at-home mother, she feels like her life is a prison. Her husband is gone for work for long periods of time, and she is in a small box that is closing in on her and make her wish that she was anyone else. When she starts to be haunted by a woman dripping with water and wearing a white dress that looks like a patchwork of rotting flesh, she starts to search for the answers, not only for why this woman is haunting her but also the answers about her heritage, her family, and who she really is.
This is my fourth V. Castro book, and there is a pattern to her stories that is emerging. Castro writes strong female characters who either have fierce independence or are looking for it. Whether it be Leticia Vasquez in Aliens: Vasquez, Belinda Alverez in Queen of the Cicadas, or Alejandra in this novel, Castro’s main characters are either women you do not want to cross or women growing into their roles as strong, fierce, and proud women. With Castro’s work, you also receive the spirits of ancestors, women who came before them to pave the way for their success. In the case of Alejandra, these women manifest as the females in her entire ancestral line, a line that she does not know at the beginning of the story but relies on by the end.
Castro also uses Mexican history and folklore to tell her stories. This weaving of old traditions with new fiction makes her work stand out. Not only does she write a good plot, but she places enough history throughout to where the reader feels like they understand Latinx culture just a little more. Castro has so many important groups of people that she represents. With her crosshatching of stories that represent Latinx culture, strong female protagonists, and great horror, V. Castro has solidly placed her in the middle of a list of who’s who in strong voices in this new golden age of horror.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.