QUEEN OF THE CICADAS (LA REINA DE LAS CHICHARRAS) – by V. Castro
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Available: June 2021
Verdict: 4.0 out of 5.0
(Synopsis provided by Goodreads) 2018: Belinda Alvarez has returned to Texas for the wedding of her best friend Veronica. The farm is the site of the urban legend, La Reina de Las Chicharras – The Queen of The Cicadas. // In 1950s south Texas a farmworker—Milagros from San Luis Potosi, Mexico—is murdered. Her death is ignored by the town, but not the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacíhuatl. The goddess hears the dying cries of Milagros and creates a plan for both to be physically reborn by feeding on vengeance and worship. // Belinda and the new owner of the farmhouse, Hector, find themselves immersed in the legend and realize it is part of their fate as well.
I was thoroughly engaged during my first V. Castro reading. Queen of the Cicadas is equal parts horror rush and cautionary campfire tale. I really cared about Milagros and the disgusting treatment she endured. The scenes in which Belinda comes in contact with Mictecacihuatl were probably my favorite; her fascination was captivating and exciting. I especially appreciated that the editor/publisher/agent didn’t force the author to Americanize her speech in this novel by giving us Spanish translation. Castro speaks freely (as far as I can tell), which added to the authenticity of this novel and the horrors contained within. The author doesn’t hold back, which I found to be an important element to the story. If there is something the reader doesn’t know, they can look it up. It’s better that way. It promotes cultural research.
The only problem I really had with this novel was that the chapters and scene breaks were laid out in such a way that they did not flow or transition smoothly; as a result, I was sometimes confused as to which narrative I was reading, especially since Belinda’s scenes are in the first person and everyone else is presented in the third.
Queen of the Cicadas is an unnerving story that often blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction. You get the horror of reality coupled seamlessly with the horror of a campfire tale. You’ll fidget and feel uncomfortable. You’ll hold your breath and feel electricity. V. Castro has a vivid imagination and a wonderful way with words, so you can bet this reader will be paying attention to anything with her name attached.
Review by Aiden Merchant – www.aidenmerchant.com