Oh, I wanted to like this book more than I did. All of Steifvater’s non-Raven Cycle books end up falling into a rut for me, simply because while her style of writing lends itself very well to the type of story and atmosphere she’s building in Henrietta, it feels a little overdone elsewhere. Also, I understand that authors have unique styles, and I agree that Steifvater’s is especially distinctive, but it was difficult for me not read certain lines in this book and think that they could have been lifted, content and all, directly from one of her other novels. I guess what I’m saying is that there wasn’t much stylistically that set it apart from her other work.
This is also unavoidably magical realism about Latinx characters written by a White author. While it’s true that this genre has evolved to become somewhat more international, and I know that Steifvater probably did her research, there was still some part of me that felt put off by the extent to which she wholeheartedly adapted the style and elements of a culture that is not her own, especially when there are many Hispanic and Latinx authors out there who are also writing magical realism that is probably getting less attention than this. That being said, I’m also White so I feel I can’t speak to this issue reliably. For anyone looking for (adult) magical realism I would recommend the book I’m currently reading, Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
Overall, this was a middle of the road book for me. My favorite thing about the novel was the characters, which continue to be where Steifvater shines above all else. The story was interesting but felt oddly paced and lacking action