What It’s About:
Alejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.
Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.
When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.
Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.
But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever.Goodreads
Thank you to Penguin Random House and Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Haunting of Alejandra was a tough book for me to rate. There some elements that I really loved and several that I wasn’t a big fan of. The thing that first drew me into the story was the Mexican folklore and the setting of Texas. I love reading stories set in my home state and the inclusion of Mexican and Mexican American culture is an added bonus. Another aspect that drew me to this book was that the author was Latina that writes books in the horror genre. It’s encouraging to see more authors like this being published.
what i did like
Alejandra’s journey of learning about her matrilineal family history gripped my interest. She was given up for adoption when she was born, and grew up with knowing anything about her family or Mexican culture. It wasn’t until Alejandra was a grown woman with a family that she found her mother and started building a relationship with her. I was intrigued by the role that her mother played in this book.
There are several chapters that tell the experiences of past women in Alejandra’s family. Many of them went through similar struggles of dealing with marriage and motherhood despite being in different time periods and locations. It made me think alot about the women in my own family and their experiences. After I finished the book, I had some insightful conversations with my mom about her life and what she remembered about my grandmother when she was growing up. We discussed love, marriage, children, and mental health. It also lead to us talking about my current experiences and feelings.
Another element in the Haunting of Alejandra that I liked was the exploration of motherhood and mental health. In modern times, society understands more about postpartum depression and the overall well being of mothers. The internet and social media plays a pivotal role in disseminating information about it. Women are sharing more of what they feel with others. After I had my baby, it was comforting to know that other mothers were going through what I was feeling.
It’s encouraging to see a mother’s mental health reflected in a book and I hope to see more of it in the future. There are also not many fiction books that have characters of women with young children. There is a definite need for that in today’s market. I loved that Alejandra’s character had three kids with different ages. I could relate to so much of what she was thinking, feeling, and experiencing while caring for her children.
what i didn’t like
Even though I was interested in the horror aspect in the beginning, it just didn’t interest me as I read through The Haunting of Alejandra. There were several creepy parts and I appreciated that it wasn’t too scary for me. However, there was a repetitiveness to the creature’s descriptions and actions that got tiring. The were also sections from the creature’s point of view that I thought were unnecessary. They didn’t add much value to the story and there are already chapters following at least 5 other characters.
Alejandra’s husband, Mathew, was a character that I would have liked to know more about. A big part of Alejandra’s struggle was with her relationship with him and the misogynistic way he treated her. Unfortunately the depiction of this was underdeveloped. He just pops in and out of scenes with a bit of gaslighting dialogue. I would have preferred for the book to focus on him as the main antagonist instead of having La Llorona in the story.
I came across this article with the author discussing her influences in writing the book and it allowed me to examine the book in alternate ways. Despite my opinions on the horror aspects, there is much to appreciate in The Haunting of Alejandra. The elements of learning family history, the hardships of motherhood, and the importance of mental health are worthy topics to contemplate.
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