The Hacienda

Books on Tape. May 2022. 11:07 hrs. ISBN 9780593552681. $95. HORROR
Blending Mexican folklore with haunted house tropes, Cañas skillfully builds the tension and fear to an almost unbearable level in her debut novel. After Beatriz’s father is murdered during the Mexican War of Independence, she weds much older Don Rodolfo for security. He brings her to his country estate, the Hacienda San Isidro, and promptly leaves her there. The only friendly face belongs to Padre Andrés, upon whom she increasingly relies as more and more frightening things happen. The house itself is a character—malicious, haunted, and evil. Beatriz tries to find out what happened to Rodolfo’s first wife and sets in motion a series of terrible events. Narrator Victoria Villarreal portrays the initially hopeful, then frightened, and finally fierce Beatriz with great skill. The bewilderment in her voice as she narrates the events in the story is painful to hear. Occasional chapters are narrated by Padre Andrés, voiced by Lee Osorio. He capably conveys the conflict of the young Padre, who is torn between the Catholic Church and his more folkloric practices.
VERDICT The audio production of this stellar debut adds to the innate tension of the book and belongs in every public library collection.
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