Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Summer of the Mariposas

Title: Summer of the Mariposas
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published: 1 October 2012
Pages: 352
Rating: 6 / 10
Challenges: N/A

Synopsis: "When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.

With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?

Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love." (from GoodReads)

My Review: Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. There will be mild spoilers.

This was a quick, intriguing read. The book is divided up into three sections. The first deals with Odilia and her sisters discovering a dead body and deciding what to do about it. This was my least favorite section, as the sisters spent a lot of time bickering and were somewhat annoying. The fantasy aspect (the girls receive spiritual guidance from La Llorna - who inspires sympathy more than fear) was a nice touch, and paved the way for the more fantastical elements to come later.

The second section follows along the familiar hero's journey from The Odyssey. I loved the way the monsters were updated! Circe tries to turn them into to "pigs" by stuffing them with drugged sweets, the nuaga and lechuzas (Scylla and Charybdis?) were unsettling and scary, and the cyclops turns out to be a one-eyed chupacabras! The scene with the chupabras was frustrating, because I felt like the girls weren't learning from their past mistakes, but it actually turned into a pretty big turning point in their growth as characters.

In the third section, the girls get reunited with their abuelita, mother, and even long-lost father (for a bit). This section included a really interesting twist on the suitors from The Odyssey. Overall I found the book very enjoyable. I liked the literary and folk lore allusions, the way Spanish was woven into the dialogue and narrative, the motif of metamorphosis, and the fact that there was no romance! (At least, not for the sisters). All of the love in this book is familial, and that's something that doesn't get talked about enough in YA books.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

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