A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City, finalist for the British Fantasy, Locus, Sunburst and Aurora awards.
The only way I can describe this book is that it’s the movie “The Craft” crossed with Nick Hornby’s novel “High Fidelity”. At times it gets bogged down in the name dropping of musicians and their albums. I get that – for a certain section of teenagers – music dominates everything. Being able to list a million artists and their œuvre is a necessary and significant part of their personality. But it gets a little draining after a while.
The central conceit is brilliant. Teenage witches and how their adult-selves deal with the aftermath of their hormone-sozzled magick. The characters are fully fleshed out and utterly believable. Even as their actions descend to their inevitable conclusion, they don’t feel like stereotypes.
Teenage magic is always going to be a big market for authors. A generation of kids weaned on Harry Potter will be desperate for more adventures, with a darker and more realistic tone. The book executes this genre perfectly.
One other minor point of criticism comes courtesy of this popular meme:
I’m sorry but I fucking HATE books written by Latinx/Hispanic people trying to make it obvious they are Latinx/Hispanic. “I went to the 𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘰 with my 𝘢𝘣𝘶𝘦𝘭𝘢. I planned to help her make 𝘩𝘶𝘦𝘷𝘰𝘴 𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘴 for 𝘢𝘭𝘮𝘶𝘦𝘳𝘻𝘰.” asses LMAO
— 𝒍𝒂 𝒈𝒂𝒗𝒊𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒕𝒂 ♡ (@alexandrashlee) December 26, 2020
Because the book is set in Mexico City, there is an over-abundance of italics. I’m not particularly au fait with Spanish, nor Mexican culture, but it feels a bit… I don’t know… patronising to assume that the reader won’t get what tortilleria and picadillo and camotes are from the context.
It’s a good book. But doesn’t need to immediately go to the top of your reading list.