A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens

Dutton. Oct. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780593472118. $27. F
DEBUT Hugo’s life is small and weighed down by debt. He has lived alone ever since his wife Melli died, and he’s still paying off her medical bills. One day he receives a phone call: if he gets rid of whatever is haunting his debt collector’s home, his debt will be cleared, entirely. A trained babalawo, Hugo is no stranger to supernatural dealings. The thing is, he doesn’t actually believe in any of it. He thinks he’ll do some talk therapy and theatrics, then walk away from his debt collector’s home a free man. He’s hardly prepared for what’s in store. Confronted with ghosts and devils from his past, Hugo must reckon with who he is and his own journey toward peace. Readers will find both tragedy and humor in Hugo’s observations of the gaping inequities of American life and will become absorbed in his personal stories of love and loss. Debt as a part of the human condition is an interesting concept that is explored through fantastical encounters reminiscent of A Christmas Carol and Don Giovanni.
VERDICT A captivating modern fable set in a vividly depicted Miami, rich with Latino and Afro-Latino culture, magic, and snark.
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