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  • Writer's pictureTheLittLibrarian

A Tall Dark Trouble - Review

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

*I received a digital/physical copy from Turn the Page Book Tour via Zando Publishing. All reviews are my own.*

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana! It is that time of year I show out for my second favorite monthly holiday (Black History Month coming in as a strong #1, of course), and I show my solidarity through recommended books to read. Starting the celebration, I'm highlighting Vanessa Montalban's debut effort, A Tall Dark Trouble. In short, it shows a triple perspective POV, generational curses, a hint of mystery, found family, murder, magic, and more. In full, well, you'll have to read the entire review to get the juicy details!

"Twin sisters Ofelia and Delfi know better than to get involved with magic. Their Mami has seen to that. After all, it was magic that cursed their family, turning love into a poison. Romance is off the table for the Sanchez women. They’ve seen the curse take hold enough times to know how that road ends. And yet. Sometimes a girl catches feelings and just can’t help herself.
When Ofelia and Delfi begin having premonitions of a series of murders, the sisters know it is time to embrace their magical inheritance to get to the bottom of the mystery and save innocent lives. Teaming up with their best friend Ethan and with brooding detective-in-training Andres, the sisters set out to learn the truth. They just need to make sure Mami doesn’t find out what they’re up to.
Meanwhile, in 1980 Cuba, Anita struggles with a different magical conflict. Her mother, Mama Orti, is a bruja who belongs to a secret coven of elders and Anita knows she will be forced to join the coven herself one day. She sees no escape, though the thought of staying and letting this future claim her is terrifying. Ofelia, Delfi, and Anita’s stories collide as each woman steps into her power and embraces who she truly is, refusing to be subdued by any person, coven, or curse."

I'd be lying if I said I'm not one to compare books. Everyone does it; we're human. We unknowingly compare something to familiarity to understand whether something is better than the original. Well, I went into reading ATDT semi-blind and quickly realized that this was the story Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown should have been. I know it's probably uncouth to start a review "bashing" another author's work to uplift another, but I'm sorry but not sorry. For those who have read BCW and felt the mark was missed, I highly recommend jumping on the bandwagon for A Tall Dark Trouble to satisfy your curiosity.

Now, to ATDT! It's been a while since I've read a story with solid pacing throughout the book. From Page one down to page 384, Montalban kept me engaged and locked in trying to find the mystery of the De Armas family. I'm starting to enjoy the magical realism genre in books. It's not over the top like most magical-ridden fantasies, but more believable for everyday life. While the twins Delfi and Ofelia were still honing their abilities, we got a peep at another bewitching air in Cuba that ties in with the power and regime of an infamous dictator. We saw the good and bad of having an internal gift that most people wouldn't understand and would scream voodoo and witchcraft if given the chance. No, this conjuring is entwined more with ancestral roots and religion. It's something to look into to educate yourself on otherworldly powers beyond what we all know and want to believe in.

I mentioned "an infamous dictator" in the previous paragraph. I'm pretty sure we can all guess who that person is. But being that this is not a historical book, it has some historical attributes based in Cuba that delegated the lives of many who fled their homes during the revolution. I like that Montalban added this feature to the story. It was small, but it gave depth to how the matriarch De Armas became who she was and tried to pass down the same attributes to her children.

Overall, I gave this book 4-stars. I enjoyed the story. The characters were loveable. I figured out the plot twist a paragraph before it happened; that's an A+ in my book. I would have loved to see more backstory between Ana's friends and the ex-boyfriend of one of the twins. Other than that, this is a read that did not disappoint. Don't let it get swept under the radar. Grab your copy of A Tall Dark Trouble today!

A Tall Dark Trouble is out now!

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