Belinda Alvarez, an out-of-work attorney, returns to Texas to attend the wedding of one of her best friends. Belinda is not a happy woman. Divorced and estranged from her only child, she searches for meaning in a bottle and by jumping into bed with anyone who will have her. The wedding is held in a restored Victorian farmhouse and as the guests converse it is revealed that the property was once the site of the brutal torture and murder of a migrant woman who now is believed to haunt the property in the guise of La Reina de Las Chicharras. Legend has it that if one looks into a mirror and says “La Reina de las Chicharras” over and over again, the avenging spirit of the young woman will appear.
The story moves from present time to the past as the tale of the young murdered woman, Milagros, is told. Milagros’ story is extremely compelling and was, to this reader, the best part of the book. But when we returned to the present, the author lost me. The events that occur that shape Belinda’s character, I found to be convoluted and difficult to follow. As I read, I longed for the author to return to Milagros and the story of her life. I found the character of Belinda irritating and was unable to identify with her or care about her journey. Hector, one of the prominent subordinate characters, also didn’t move me. He seemed wooden and one dimensional.
I was looking forward to this read because I had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, I found I couldn’t get into it. I did read it to the end, but was quite glad when it was over. Again, the story of Milagros was beautifully written and I wish the author had stayed in that vein and not given in to the bloody horror of the Aztec Queen of the Dead.
I want to thank the publisher, Flame Tree Press, and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of this novel.