HORROR

The Queen of the Cicadas

Flame Tree Press Jun. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781787586031. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781787586017. $14.95. HORROR
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DEBUT In her engrossing, violent, and exultant debut novel, Castro boldly crafts a brutal revenge horror story, one that belatedly but firmly delivers justice to forgotten women from all over the world. In 1952, on a Texas farm, Milagros, a farm worker from Mexico, is brutally murdered. The Aztec Goddess of Death pledges herself to Milagros as the woman dies, tied to a tree and suffocating on the cicada shells stuffed down her throat. The farmland is now cursed and haunted, and the legend of Milagros, Queen of the Cicadas, grows until 2019, when Belinda, facing a midlife crisis, returns to her hometown for a childhood friend’s wedding on the now renovated farm. Belinda and the new owner of the property, Hector, are both lost souls who on the outside seem to have succeeded in a world set against them. They connect with the spirits and help bring their awesome and terrifying power back into the world, giving voice to the voiceless and punishing oppressors everywhere.
VERDICT Castro delivers an unflinching, honest, raw, and thought-provoking horror tale that is both serious in its social commentary and fun to read. For fans of gruesome, vengeance-themed horror that is deeply tied to its place and the marginalized identities of its protagonists, such as The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones, and Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi.
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