Mestiza Blood

Flame Tree. Jan. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781787586185. $26.95. HORROR
Castro’s (Queen of the Cicadas) first short story collection is filled with violent, erotic, and visceral tales featuring familiar horror themes, reinvigorated by the author’s application of Chicana perspective. The opening story, “Night of the Living Dead Chola,” sets the tone perfectly, as a murdered woman rises from the dry Rio Grande riverbed to seek revenge on the living. Castro goes on to unveil horrors both real and supernatural, in language that is simultaneously brutal and beautiful; the sentences fly off the page and into readers’ minds, where they lodge, forcing them to think about the larger, real-world implications at the core of every monstrous encounter. Because Castro’s prose shines brighter the longer she monopolizes readers’ attention, the decision to end the book with the two longest and strongest stories, “Truck Stop” and “The Final Porn Star,” makes for a satisfying conclusion.
VERDICT This collection provides an excellent introduction to Castro’s style of unflinchingly raw, unapologetically sexy, unsettlingly realistic supernatural horror; it’s a solid volume of terrifying, thought-provoking, and fun tales. Readers seeking similar should check out the work of Gabino Iglesias and Cynthia Pelayo.
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