I loved The Raven Cycle, so when I saw Maggie Stiefvater had come out with a new book, I was all over it. The narrator for the Raven Cycle was so good, I was hoping he would also narrate this one, so I got the audiobook from my library.
It’s not the same narrator, but this book’s narrator also did a really good job, and yet I still couldn’t get into this book. I’m not sure why, because it has a lot of the same elements The Raven Cycle had: it’s a YA a paranormal mystery the characters have to solve in order to survive.
This one is about the Soria family, who live on a ranch called Bicho Raro in the 1960s. The Sorias have the ability to work miracles, but only part way. People come to them with their problems and the Soria’s help them realize the darkness in themselves. The darkness always takes a physical manifestation, whether as constant crying, having the ability to speak only one word or phrase, having one’s head turned into a jackal, or suddenly growing to the size of a giant. All the pilgrims at the ranch have to deal with the physical manifestations of their darkness until they can figure it out on their own, at which point they’ll return to normal and re-enter the outside world.
The pilgrims can interact with each other, but the Sorias are forbidden from interacting with them. If a Soria helps a pilgrim resolve their miracle, then they will take on that person’s darkness and it will be even worse for them – the last Soria to attempt to help a pilgrim died and his wife died trying to help him. So now they’re not allowed to even speak to the pilgrims or interact with them in any way because you never know what small act might help them resolve their miracle.
This works out OK until Daniel falls in love with one of the pilgrims. His darkness manifests as a decrease in vision until he goes blind. Before he completely loses his vision, he leaves the ranch, knowing that his presence there is putting the rest of his family in danger.
The adults (who remember the tragedy that struck their family last time) are willing to let him go, once they find out what happened, even as it breaks their hearts, but Daniel’s cousins, Beatriz and Joaquin, say screw that and set out to find him.
They’ve been illegally broadcasting their own radio show in the middle of the night, using a truck they rigged for the purpose, so they use it to send messages to Daniel, hoping to help him face his darkness. They eventually succeed, without taking the darkness on themselves, which shows the family can, in fact, help out the pilgrims. This is wonderful news because, for the last few years, pilgrims have been having a harder and harder time facing their darkness, which means more of them stay longer (some have been there for years) while others keep coming. The family’s ability to help the pilgrims face their darkness means they can help make way for incoming pilgrims.
This book covers a lot of things: the nature of miracles, family, marriage, love, fame. So I have a hard time identifying why I didn’t like it. Part of it is that I think it moved pretty slowly, but mostly there just wasn’t anything about any of the characters that made me want to root for them. I was left feeling pretty “meh” about the whole thing.
I should mention there’s been a lot of controversy around this book because the Soria family is a Latino family and Stiefvater is not a Latina, so much of the Latino community is upset because they feel misrepresented and that their culture has been appropriated by yet another white person. I’m not qualified to speak on this debate, but if you’re interested, I recommend looking for reviews by Latinos who’ve actually read the book.
What did you guys read/listen to this week? Anything else you were looking forward to that let you down?