Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala


Word PressHmm.  I didn’t really “get” this book.  That’s probably me rather than it: I’m better with a straight historical novel, rather than something which is a combination of historical fiction and imaginings/fantasy.   It sounded interesting – set in Mexico, just south of the US border, in the 1870s, with a cast of characters including indigenous groups, crypto-Jews, and recent Irish immigrants.  However, it was all rather disjointed – people were (literally) wandering about, and there were too many characters for a relatively short book and their stories didn’t really link together very well.  Also, the crypto-Jews (i.e. crypto Sephardi Jews) were using bits of Yiddish!

Interesting setting, and an interesting idea to write about characters representing different aspects of Mexico’s cultural heritage, but it just didn’t really work for me.  It’s probably me: this idea of including mystical/fantastical elements in historical novels is particularly popular in Hispanic writings, but, as I said, I’m better with a straight historical novel!


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