The Haunting of Alejandra

Source: DRC via NetGalley (Random House Publishing Group-Ballentine, Del Rey) in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

Why did I choose to read this book?

I was drawn to this book because of the haunting and because of the act of shaking off generational trauma. As much as we might like to deny it, the sin/actions/consequences of our ancestors are visited onto us, and it’s up to us whether we will continue them or break the cycle. I’m interested in how authors choose to tell the story of breaking the cycle and if there’s spookiness to boot? I’m in.

What is this book about?

The Haunting of Alejandra falls into the same category as Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder. A woman, who is a mom of 3 (four if you count her passively aggressive overbearing slightly emotionally abusive husband) has reached a point of no return. She wants to end her life to escape the hole she’s dug for herself. But then she receives a visit from a ghost in the bathroom and begins thinking she’s crazy, that she’s seeing things. She visits a mental health professional who is also a spiritual healer and begins to discover that this might be more than just something that lives in her own head.

What is notable about this story?

The use of La Llorona as a real, modern threat was very intriguing. I’ve said before that I enjoy learning about other cultures and historical events through fiction, and this book does not disappoint. The curse of La Llorona flows through bloodlines, and Alejandra is next on the list.

I also think it’s important to see women’s stories as mothers who are beaten down, trapped, and worn out. Alejandra gave up her career, her name isn’t on anything that her family owns, she’s bored and sad and frustrated. She feels disconnected from her husband who is just as helpless and irritating as the kids. He sneakily lures her into a life of housewifery and it all happened so fast that now she can’t see a way out. So many women live this way and it’s not right. If you’re reading this right now and you are in that situation, you are not alone.

Was anything not so great?

This only the third book I have chosen not to finish this year. The writing, oh my goodness the writing. It’s not even the style. It’s like what a high school student would write if their paper was due in 3 hours and they hadn’t started so they were just writing a stream of consciousness. It was just so…I’m not a literary scholar so I don’t know how to describe it. It didn’t feel polished. It didn’t feel edited. It felt like a 4th or 5th draft where you have the timeline and the characters established, but how you connect it all just feels like a plastic bag full of mayonnaise. There were words, and they meant things, but they weren’t doing anything. It was like reading a diary that was trying to be a novel.

I guess the best way to describe it using my own experience is like hearing someone sing a really familiar song badly. You know the background music and the words to the song and so does the singer you’re about to hear. But then they start to sing and you cringe because how they are singing it is just so wrong. And it’s a professional type event, not karaoke, so your expectations are that this person would be a good singer. So you’re disappointed, and a little tiny bit mad, that your time was wasted.

Luckily this was a digital advance copy of the book, so I didn’t spend money.

What’s the verdict?

Unlike previous DNF books where I was pretty clear that it just wasn’t for me but it was well written so if it sounded like you might want to try it you should, The Haunting of Alejandra was simply not a well written book. It hurt my brain to read it. I made it to 46% before I called it quits so I felt confident enough to write a review, but unfortunately I have to give this one star on Goodreads. It’s got all the ingredients of a great story, I just can’t make it through when the writing is this bad.

On to the next one!

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