REVIEW: The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
From the bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a magical novella of revenge and redemption.
Yalxi, the deposed Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers, is on a desperate mission. Her lover and confidant seized her throne and stole the precious diamond heart, the jewel that is the engine of her power. Yalxi sets out to regain her magic and find a weapon capable of destroying the usurper. But this will mean turning to unlikely allies and opening herself up to unpleasant memories that have been suppressed for many years. For Yalxi is no great hero, but a cunning sorceress who once forged her path in blood—and must reckon with the consequences.
Set in a fantastical land where jewels and blood provide symbiotic magical powers to their wearers, The Return of the Sorceress evokes the energy of classic sword and sorcery, while building a thoroughly fresh and exciting adventure ripe for our era.
Dear Ms. Moreno-Garcia,
I’ve been meaning to try one of your books before but hadn’t pulled the trigger until now. Now is when I saw this cover and, weak willed where intriguing covers are concerned, I asked to review this one. It’s a nice length novella that gets straight into the heart of the story and kept my interest to the end.
A wounded Yalxi goes back to where she started, hunting for a ring in which her nahual (a spirit which can change form) resides, hoping to gain a back up for when she seeks revenge against her former fellow apprentice and lover.She made a bad decision and gave into temptation before. Will this time be different? Yep, I think I’ll stop there as saying much more would be basically telling the whole story.
The place and time are unknown but given the Nahuatl names, the mention of canals in the city and surrounding marshlands plus sinking buildings, I wondered if this was supposed to be a magical mesoamerican Tenochtitlan. The sorcery and magic are dark and gritty and often involve the use of blood. As Yalxi remembers things from her past, we get a glimpse of how precarious her life was with a Master, to whom she and two friends apprenticed themselves, who could praise them one day and make them worry he would drain them dry of their blood the next.
Yalxi begins the story seeking revenge for being overthrown by her former lover but it’s soon obvious that she has done some things she regrets. Her relationship with her nahual is contentious as well. At times it helps her – but for a price of her blood- while other times it brings forgotten memories to Yalxi that she’d rather not see. I loved this bit as it binds Yalxi and the nahual together more tightly yet also provides some backstory that isn’t delivered in an infodump.
The pace of the book is fairly fast with little space wasted. Despite the revenge plot, the focus is on Yalxi and the choices she made plus the one she is facing. The ending isn’t quite what I was expecting but given the bloody aspects all through the story, I was pleased with the resolutions of two relationships. Though it’s complete, I would read further adventures with Yalxi and her nahual which is the sign that I enjoyed my time in this world. B
I’ve read three books by Moreno-Garcia and my grades have been mixed. I loved Gods of Jade and Shadow and gave it an A-, but unlike many readers I didn’t care for Mexican Gothic. Untamed Shore fell in the middle (B), but I don’t think you’d care for it because for much of the book the pacing is slow.
@Janine Ballard: Of all the blurbs that I’ve read, I think “Gods of Jade and Shadow” would probably be the one I’d be interested in trying.