If I could sum it up, I’d say it is the book version of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights; a melange of the sickest most disgusting human behavior you can possibly imagine. From zoophilia, rape, sexual assault, abuse of minors, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous bigotry, violence (particularly against queer and trans people) to the whole spectrum of potentially offensive and demeaning behavior. And yet, it’s addictive. It glues you and traps you all the way to the end. Who killed The Witch and why? What happened? The story is told from each point of view of those involved or with knowledge of the crime. Their narration gets more disturbing each chapter. But also more enraged, more hateful, rawer and more passionate.
For me, the most astonishing, awning and praise-worthy part of the book is the language. I cannot imagine how it reads in translation. In its original, is so deeply Mexican, local, profane; hateful, hurtful and bigoted. Offensive. Raw. Nothing like that hate-filled profanity could better reflect the feelings of the characters. Their disillusion with life, anger at their own poverty and impotence, at the prevailing injustice and violence, at what they had had to do and become to survive. This is the speech of the beaten down, oppressed, misunderstood, poor, abused and ignorant.
I grew up in a violent small town on the other side of Mexico and this book brought me so many memories. It felt so authentic to me; from the same stories I used to hear as a kid about treasures and witches, to those of the violence that women and queer people have to survive, inflicted by their own family and neighbors. Everything about this novel is authentic. It is the antithesis of American Dirt. And It is possibly my favorite this year.