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The Haunting of Alejandra - Review

*I received a digital/audio copy from Del Rey for Hear Our Voices book Tour. All views are my own*

I was excited when my book tour company, Hear Our Voices got the contract to tour the latest V. Castro book, The Haunting of Alejandra. I begged to be on this tour even though I am not of a cultural background. But with my mission of reading more Spanish-themed books and the synopsis giving a horror twist on the infamous lore of La Llorona mixed with our daily struggles in life, I thought this one would be a banger. This book wasn't my cup of tea. And before ya'll start screaming, 'Well, it's because you don't understand the full extensity of the cultural differences,' I will break down my thoughts in this one-of-a-kind review. This will be a spoiler alert all the way through, so read at your own risk!

"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."

Sidebar: My crew always yelled at me for not writing traditional reviews because I like mixing my feelings, concepts, and discussions into the write-up. But this book calls for it, and I can't see myself separating the review. I didn't love THOA, but I think it's something to discuss.

I had the experience of listening to THOA via audio with Raquel Beattie. She wasn't my favorite narrator for this, and I had trouble figuring out the page breaks and new scenes as she read along. I'd reread the story physically, but I'm not sure if Beattie is the one to blame for my mixed emotions about this book entirely.

The best way I can describe mixy feelings is the same way people felt about reading Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown. Go ahead and read those reviews if you have a chance. THOA dealt with an emotional disorder in a one-sided suffering marriage rather than focusing on the mystery/horror of the mythical ghost. I get that La Llorona is supposed to be a metaphor or at least based on an actual woman who had a mental breakdown and ended up drowning her kids, but I didn't think the story would heavily rely on the mental portion of it. Instead of a strong presence of a paranormal curse, like in Pinata by Leopoldo Gout, we have the breakdown of a woman with PTSD. The moments of La Llorona are not precisely "haunting" Alejandra but rather showcasing that whenever Alejandra saw the woman in white, it was in the middle of her breakdown.

To be honest, I thought Alejandra was La Llorona. It would've made much more perfect sense for the horror part of the story. Castro's horror version uses the magical realism of ancient lore to highlight emotional trauma. Mama just needed a break! I would also feel bogged down with three spoiled-ass kids treating me like a maid and a husband who does absolutely nothing to help. And the fact that a generation of women "saw" the woman in white makes me believe that this is not a family curse but an illness in her family's DNA code. It's not exactly what I signed up for.

But to make up for my dislike of the story, I think this book opens the doors to discussing depression and seeing a therapist. THOA wasn't just about a "haunting" but a message to seek help when things get overwhelming.

Overall I rated this story 3-stars. I get the book. I do. It's definitely not how I thought the story would turn out. The horror wasn't a traditional one but rather a metaphor, and it was an attempted cool concept that didn't quite hit its mark. The ending was great, but I'm surprised I lasted that long to get there. I've already shared my ambivalence with a few people on Bookstagram, but I'm open to discussing it. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

The Haunting of Alejandra is available now!

#TheLittLibrarian #Review #HorrorFiction #HistoricalFantasy

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