The Haunting of Alejandra

Del Rey: Ballantine. Apr. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9780593499696. $28. HORROR
Alejandra has just moved with her husband and three children from Texas to Philadelphia, only months after finally connecting with her birth mother, Cathy. Overwhelmed, lonely, and plagued by suicidal thoughts, Alejandra is barely getting through each day. Via a narrative told mostly from Alejandra’s point of view in the novel’s present, and enhanced by well-placed and clearly marked flashbacks beginning in 1522 and moving forward in time, readers follow Alejandra and her ancestors and can only watch helplessly as a demon stalks the women of Alejandra’s family for centuries. Using the Mexican folklore of La Llorona as a frame and expertly updating it for a modern audience, Castro writes a story about generational trauma, colonization, systemic oppression, and the horror at the heart of motherhood. Utterly terrifying and wholly immersive, this novel will wow readers with its confident and unflinching tale of a woman reclaiming her power.
VERDICT The big-five-publisher debut by Castro (Out of Aztlan; Bram Stoker Award–nominated The Queen of the Cicadas) will bring her critically acclaimed, honest, sensual, and raw storytelling to a larger audience. Suggest far and wide to fans of unapologetically feminist, thought-provoking, and engrossing horror, such as the works of Carmen Maria Machado and Gwendolyn Kiste.
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