Tantor Audio. Jan. 2023. tr. from Spanish by Sarah Booker. 9:11 hrs. ISBN 9798765072042. $19.99. HORROR
In her English-language debut, Ecuadorian writer Ojeda offers a novel about the horrors of adolescence. Each day after school, Annelise and Fernanda meet their friends in an abandoned building where they perform rituals and dares to a god of Annelise’s imagining. Meanwhile, their new literature teacher, Miss Clara, teeters on the edge of sanity as she struggles with deep-seated anxiety. The two disparate groups collide in inevitable and destructive ways. Saturated in symbolism and themes of motherhood and repulsion for the female body, Ojeda’s haunting, dense prose tears into the dualities of womanhood. Listeners familiar with the trends of anonymous internet horror will appreciate the references to those kinds of stories throughout this novel and its nods to pop culture. Narrator Victoria Villarreal draws in listeners with her atmospheric voice, delivering the prose with hushed horror as the girls tell one another scary stories in the abandoned building. The visceral, often graphic language and scenes are alive and raw in her delivery.
VERDICT This experimental horror novel is not for the faint of heart. For those brave enough to take it on, however, it offers a terrifying look into the trauma of womanhood and desire.
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