Witches provides us two POVs of women who’s lives intersect at the investigation of a murder. Paloma was a healer who didn’t quite live up to the expectations of their father, born a boy but living as a woman, there is much turmoil in Paloma’s life. Their sister Feliciana is telling us what it is to be a curandera (healer), a woman and a proud Oaxacan within her family and community. She imparts the challenges of language and identity that she and Paloma face. Zoe’s story wasn’t as strong for me, but she similarly tells of societal expectations thrust upon her as a woman and a journalist.
I’m not sure what I just read. It was beautiful and dripping with indigenous Mexican culture and pride but I’m not sure the story really went anywhere compelling enough for me. We get a lot of detail on what it is like to not want to immerse in the colonizer’s culture, to embrace one’s own language and tradition. I liked the passages on the traditional healing and the metaphors of the treatment ingredients for people and their lives. But I’m not sure I followed the throughline of the plot as clearly as I would have wanted to. I’m not sure if this was the translation, the narrating or the writing itself. I still think it was an intoxicatingly immersive read that kept me entertained and engaged questioning my own assumptions about culture and gender.
I think if you like character driven stories, you will find this one really powerful. If you’re like me and prefer a more plot driven story, the audiobook was a great way to experience the story and keep it moving in sections where you might put down the physical book while reading for lack of action.
Thanks to HighBridge Audio via Netgalley for access to this audiobook. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the last translated novel you’ve read?