“Gaspar is 6 years old when the Order first come for him. For years, they have exploited his father’s ability to commune with the dead and the demonic, presiding over macabre rituals where the unwanted and the disappeared are tortured and executed, sacrificed to the Darkness. Now they want a successor.”

written by Sophie

After finishing this doorstopper, it took me a few days to recover.

I was called to it by the cover*, which I find both compelling and disconcerting, and the entire book is like that. It’s about cults of darkness, horrific mutilation, child enslavement, disappearances – and also about deep love, trying to live with trauma, finding normality in madness. The suffocation of the jungle and the Other is quite tangible.

Juan, the father, is a magnetic presence, and I found all the bits with him in it, even as a memory, the best parts of the book. I liked the structure, which hops back and forth a little bit in time and gives you different view points and voices. I was also interested to see one section that was obviously one of her short stories in Things We Lost in the Fire but made a lot bigger; I’ve never really noticed that before in an author’s work.

Enriquez is Argentinian and the whole book breathes the history of that country, the turmoil of the dictatorship, the disappearances and torture. What a soft life I’ve lived and how thankful I am for it. It’s not a perfect story; for all that it’s 700+ pages it still felt unfinished, like her short stories. But I was compelled to read it and I will keep thinking of many of its images for a long time to come.

*Cover art is by Pablo Gerardo Camacho, who also did the covers for Marlon James’s Black Leopard Red Wolf and Moon Witch Spider King.

N.B.: This review was first published on Instagram by @sophie_bookseller

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