I received this book for free from Hear Our Voices Book Tours and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro
Published by Random House Worlds on April 18, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical, Fiction / Horror, Fiction / Women
Source: Hear Our Voices Book Tours and the publisher
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A woman is haunted by the Mexican folk demon La Llorona in this “utterly terrifying and wholly immersive . . . story about generational trauma, colonization, systemic oppression, and the horror at the heart of motherhood” (Library Journal, starred review).
“Castro is one of the most exciting genre authors on the scene right now, and this might be her most powerful book yet.”—Paste (Most Anticipated Horror Novels of 2023)
Alejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.
Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.
When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.
Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.
But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever.
This one is for my girlies that love a good horror book that incorporates urban legends and folklore. The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro is the story of a woman who feels trapped by motherhood and trying to get through life without a support system. Adopted at birth, through DNA testing she discovers more about her Mexican American ancestry and her family. But lurking on the periphery of her depression and isolation is the legendary La Llorona, a demon from Mexican folklore.
The Struggles of Motherhood
Not necessarily a trigger warning, but I would caution that if you have suffered from postpartum depression you might want to consider if you are ready for a read like this. It will definitely hit close to home for some. But some women may feel comfort in identifying with Alejandra’s struggles to know they aren’t the only one who has felt trapped by motherhood and/or felt that they have lost some of their identity in the role. Just something to be aware of before reading.
Alejandra’s narrative really characterizes the darker side of motherhood that many women experience whether they admit to it or not. For some mothers it can be moments here and there and for others it can be longer. The fact that she has no support system contributes to her feelings of being overwhelmed. She is a stay-at-home-Mom who never gets a break. All of the material things are there for her, so her husband doesn’t understand why she is unhappy. But she has no emotional support.
Her husband, Matthew, really could’ve stayed gone on a permanent work trip for all the help he was. Although, the man did not lie about who he was when they met. All the red flags were being thrown in Alejandra’s face, she just wasn’t ready to see them.
Alejandra seems caught in the middle with the isolation of motherhood and in between the horror of a generational curse and the warm light of healing through reclaiming identity. Having to make a decision between succumbing to the curse or gathering the energy to fight it and embrace the healing that awaits.
I appreciated the story The Haunting of Alejandra told. I also liked that as the book goes on the perspectives of women and her female ancestors in her family are added. That was a great move to pivot to a new perspective to help balance out the heaviness of Alejandra’s narrative.
SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read Legendborn by Tracy Deonn! Close your eyes and skip to the next paragraph! The generational curse passed down from mother to daughter reminded me of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn and the curse in Brianna’s family. Both curses are born out of the desperation of a female ancestor trying to escape sexual oppression and assault by white & European men. The cost of escaping one horrific fate only to have your bloodline tied to another generational one is the definition of horror in my opinion.
If you aren’t familiar with the story of La Llorona, you should definitely look it up. (Because I’m not going to describe it. I’m still shook!) My friend tried to tell me the story but I was so scared midway through I just stopped her and ran away with my hands over my ears lol.
So why, you ask, did I read this book that centers La Llorona? I’m a reckless reader sometimes. Even though I’m a scaredy cat, sometimes I just can’t resist testing my limits. Let me just tell you, this book is correctly categorized as horror, folks. So glad that I read it and did not listen to the audiobook so that I could speed read over the descriptions of the creature in the book when it appeared. That chick was SCARY! And since I mentioned the audiobook for The Haunting of Alejandra, I did listen to a part of it. I got to a really intense part, but had to go somewhere so I switched to audiobook so I could keep going. The narrator is solid.
About the Author
V. Castro is a two time Bram Stoker award nominated writer born in San Antonio, Texas, to Mexican American parents. She’s been writing horror stories since she was a child, always fascinated by Mexican folklore and the urban legends of Texas. Castro now lives in the United Kingdom with her family, writing and traveling with her children. Website
Looking for another horror book recommendation? Check out Lone Women by Victor LaSalle. I read it in March. Mood Reader Moments: March Reading Wrap-up