As you know, I translate books by other independent authors every so often, and I share them with you once they have been published. A Spanish author (from Zaragoza), whom I had met, and we even worked together at a book fair, Francisco Tessainer, asked me to translate his book into English. I had been quite intrigued by the premise of his book (the subtitle of the book is: What if Leonardo’s life had been a fraud?) and was thrilled at the prospect. And I enjoyed every minute of it. This is not a regular review, but I thought I’d share it with you, and I recommend it to those of you who enjoy alternative historical fiction, although it is not exactly that, but an interesting “what if” that fits around the facts of Leonardo Da Vinci’s life, offering them an alternative interpretation. It has a wicked sense of humour, and I must confess I learned a fair bit about Da Vinci’s life, even if it was through the lens of this peculiar version of Da Vinci.
The false Da Vinci: What if Leonardo’s life had been a fraud by Francisco Tessainer
In the fifteenth century, when human life was worthless; and in a territory (current day Italy) then divided into powerful city-states; a man who looks extraordinarily similar to Leonardo Da Vinci takes advantage of an accident to impersonate the great master. But, as he does not possess Da Vinci’s talents, he soon realizes that if he wants to keep up the ruse he must appropriate the works of other artists. After savoring the advantages brought by his new name, the protagonist decides to employ the same methods used by the mighty of his time to preserve his newly acquired privileges.
The False Da Vinci is a suspenseful novel full of intrigues and crimes that plays with a possible/alternative past based on real events, and tries to get a closer look at the unresolved mysteries surrounding the figure of the great master: his private life, and the paradox that, in fact, he wasn’t just one man, but three, four, five, six…
From a noble land (Zaragoza), whose people are often labelled “stubborn”, he camouflages that truth with the adjective “tenacious”. And it had to be so because, he was also born under the sign of Taurus and, to top it all, through his veins flows German blood (his grandfather was born in Augsburg). Therefore, with your permission, he’s, at the very least, “stubborn”. An economist by degree and working on the supply chain as a profession, he caught the bug of the written word after being bitten by a book at a very early age. The False da Vinci is his fourth novel, although in fact and by his own admission, the first one he dared to allow others to read. As the saying goes: “Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.”
Later he also published on Amazon the novels (not yet translated into English) ¿Y después el bienestar? y Ruido de lluvia.
So, if you enjoy historical fiction, especially alternative historical fiction, like the Italian Renaissance, and appreciate a somewhat twisted sense of humour, check a sample of the book and see how you feel.
Thanks for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep safe, smile, and keep reading!
The long-awaited new novel from the author of the global bestseller and modern classic, The Shadow of the Wind.
As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue, and adventure. Within its haunting pages, Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.
‘For the first time in 20 years or so as a book reviewer, I am tempted to dust off the old superlatives and event to employ some particularly vulgar clichés from the repertoire of publishers’ blurbs. My colleagues may be shocked, but I don’t care, I can’t help myself, here goes. The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storyteller’s art. I couldn’t put it down. Enchanting, hilarious and heartbreaking, this book will change your life. Carlos Ruiz Zafón has done that exceedingly rare thing – he has produced, in his first novel, a popular masterpiece, an instant classic’ Daily Telegraph
“THE LABYRINTH OF THE SPIRITS is the sublime culmination to a truly outstanding series…a reading experience not to be missed…As long as you actually open a door to the labyrinth and enter it, all is well. As to not reading the Cemetery of Forgotten books at all, that is obviously a grave error.” (Publishers Weekly, ShelfTalker)
“Ruiz Zafón clearly has had a great deal of fun in pulling this vast story together…His ability to keep track of a thousand threads while, in the end, celebrating the power of storytelling is admirable…. A satisfying conclusion to a grand epic that, of course, will only leave its fans wanting more.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Gothic, operatic, and in many ways old-fashioned, this is a story about storytelling and survival, with the horrors of Francoist Spain present on every page. Compelling…this is for readers who savor each word and scene, soaking in the ambiance of Barcelona, Zafón’s greatest character (after, perhaps, the irrepressible Fermín Romero de Torres).” (Booklist)
About the author:
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind. His work has been published in more than forty different languages and honored with numerous international awards, including the Edebé Award, Spain’s most prestigious prize for young adult fiction. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.
Thanks to NetGalley and to Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Orion Publishing Group) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I enthusiastically and freely chose to review.
I read the first two novels of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books series years back, in Spanish. I have recommended The Shadow of the Wind to anybody who would bother to listen to me (probably multiple times, sorry) and was enthralled by the complex tale of creation and mental unravelling span by The Angel’s Game. In the maelstrom of the last few years, somehow I lost track of the series and missed the publication of The Prisoner of Heaven (although I have been trying to locate a copy since I started reading this volume), but when I saw the last novel in the series was being published in English and offered on NetGalley, I knew it was my chance to catch up. As I also do translations and had read two of the novels in their original Spanish version, I had the added interest of scrutinising what the translation into English would look like. Well, I must say I thought it was superb, in case I forget to mention it later. Lucia Graves (daughter of Robert Graves, here you can read in interview with her) manages to capture the style of the author, the complexity and beauty of his language, and translates the local peculiarities of the dialogue, helping readers feel the joy and the intoxicating and magical experience of reading the original. Hats off!
If you’ve read up to this point, you’ll likely have guessed that I loved this novel. To get it out of the way, I’ll clarify that I think it can be read by itself, or as a starting point to a reader’s visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and although perhaps somebody who starts by reading this book will feel s/he knows already the whole story, I suspect they’ll feel curious and intrigued and will want to learn the full details of the stories that come to fruition here (this is my case as well). Here, the author of the story inside the book, Julián, (yes, the story is full of books and writers) explains how the series works better than I can:
The way I dreamed of it, the narrative would be divided into four interconnected volumes that would work like entrance doors into a labyrinth of stories. As the reader advanced into its pages, he would feel that the story was piecing itself together like a game of Russian dolls in which each plot and each character led to the next, and that, in turn, to yet another, and so on and so forth. The saga would contain villains and heroes, and a thousand tunnels through which the reader would be able to explore a kaleidoscopic plot resembling that mirage of perspectives I’d discovered with my father in the heart of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books.
This is a long novel, and a complex one, although not one difficult to read or follow (I don’t think). As the quoted paragraph says, there are many stories here, and many memorable characters, some dead, some alive, and some… (among them, Alicia Gris, femme-fatale, spy, little girl, seductress, avenging angel, long-suffering survivor of a terrible war; Daniel Sampere, bookshop owner extraordinaire searching for answers; Fermín Romero de Torres, whimsical, fun, full of life and common-sense, witty, heroic, down-to-earth; Julián Sempere, the stand-in for the author and heir to a long tradition; Isabella, a mysterious figure much of the action revolves around; authors David Martín, Julian Carax, Víctor Mataix; the fabulous Vargas, a hard-working an old-fashioned honest policeman with some secrets of his own; the complex Leandro; the horrifying Hendaya; the intriguing Rovira…). The story moves back and forth in time, from the time of the Civil War in Spain (1938) to its aftermath during the Franco regime, and into 1992. We visit Madrid, Paris —however briefly— although the main setting, and the main character, is Barcelona, in all its glory and horror.
In the darkest corner of her heart, Barcelona, mother of labyrinths, holds of mesh of narrow streets knotted together to form a reef of present and future ruins.
I kept thinking what genre one would fit this book into. Amazon has it listed in the categories of literary fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries. All true, I guess. There are secrets, mysteries, action, revenge, intrigues, crimes, murders, torture… The novel reminds me, in some ways, of the big adventures and narratives of old, novels by Victor Hugo (whose pen, possibly?, makes an appearance in the novel), Jules Verne, the Dumas (father and son), with its sprawling narrative, its wondrous descriptions of people and events, its historical background (the Spanish Civil War and the postwar years, accurately reflected through a fantasy lens), and even its gothic setting (we have mysterious mansions, dungeons, cells, castles, underground passages, true labyrinths…). This book bears homage to literature, to books, to authors, to the power of imagination, and to the magic of reading.
The book talks about books and writing and contains plenty of advice on writing, some of it contradictory, and there are many different types of writers contained in its pages. It is metafictional at its best, and I was not surprised when I read that the author also composes music. There are variations on a theme in evidence (stories are told and retold: sometimes different versions, sometimes from different perspectives, and in different formats). There is plenty of showing, there is telling from direct witnesses, or third-hand, there are documents that bring us missing pieces from the pens of those who are no longer able to tell their own stories, and everybody gets a chance to tell his or her own story, be it in the first person or the third, be it directly or through a narrator. The author has explained that he writes his novels in a similar way to how movies are conceived and designed, and that is evident when one reads the story, as it is impossible not to visualise it. Carlos Ruiz Zafón professes his admiration for Orson Welles and that comes across loud and clear in this book. But, however much he loves movies, he believes books can conjure up worlds that no filmmaker would be able to bring to life, and that is his stated reason for not selling the rights for the film adaptation of the series. Part of me would like to watch it, but I am convinced I’d be disappointed, so incredible is the world the author has built.
I have mentioned the style of writing when I talked about the translation and I have shared some quotes. I kept highlighting and highlighting text while I was reading it and I found it very difficult to select some to share, but I hope the few fragments I have included will pique your curiosity and make you check a sample if you are not sure if you would like it (you would!). One of the tips on writing contained in the book highlights the importance of the way the story is written, above and beyond the plot, but in this case, the two mix perfectly.
I have mentioned some of the themes, the historical background, and the mystery elements included in the story, with some gore and violent scenes, but there are plenty of magical, lighter, and funny moments as well, and I wanted to share a couple of sentences from Isabella’s notebook that I particularly enjoyed, to illustrate the sense of humour (sometimes a bit dark) also present:
We were three sisters, but my father used to say he had two daughters and one mule.
I didn’t like playing with the other girls: my specialty was decapitating dolls with a catapult.
I’m not sure what else I can tell you to try and convince you to read this book. I am from Barcelona and love the city, even if some of the places mentioned in the novel no longer exist (or not in their original form). You could use the book as a guide for a visit (and I know there were tours visiting some of the streets and settings of The Shadow of the Wind), or you could lose yourself in the labyrinth of your imagination. You could imagine the movie, cast the characters, or put yourself in their place (I’d happily be Alicia Gris, pain and all). If you need to live some adventures and take a break from your life, go on, enter the labyrinth and visit the cemetery of the forgotten books. You might never want to find the way out. I am rearing for another visit soon.
Ah and when I read this article about the pleasures of slow reading, I immediately thought of this book and decided to share it with you. Because this is one of those books that are better enjoyed and savoured slowly.
Thanks very much to NetGalley, to the publisher, and to the author and translator, for this fabulous book, thanks to all of you for reading and for putting up with my enthusiasm and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling and reading!
I wanted to bring you the launch of one of the books I have translated in recent times. This time I bring you a book about writing, by a very talented and experienced Spanish writer who, after years of publishing books and teaching others how to write, decided to answer some of the questions she’d often been asked by publishing a short book. This is a book full of common-sense, that is a breath of fresh air in these times when everybody is a guru and we are offered fool-proof formulas to write best-sellers at the drop of a hat.
OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP by Estrella Cardona Gamio
OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP was born out of the requests of the people who visited our web page www.cgediciones.com; the numerous letters we received asking us questions about how to write in a literary manner gave me a chance to reply, not to each individual person, but to all at the same time, because many of the questions were repeated.
Now, due to the great success of the online and paper Spanish versions of this book, we’ve decided to translate it into English so it can help anybody considering a career in literature in English too.
By chance, if there is such a thing as chance, we were finalizing the details of OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP in e-book format, when a reader sent me a brief note. I think his words are fair and appropriate, and rather than add anything else, I’ll let them speak for themselves.
“Greetings. My name is Manuel Pozo Gómez. I started writing years ago and while trying to find information on the internet I came across a writing course you had published. Thanks to your guidance I got off to a great start in the world of literature and I wanted to thank you for it. Following your course and its advice, I’ve managed to win some awards. Although it is a simple and straight-forward course, you should not skip a single word. I loved it. Thanks for everything.”
OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP CONTENT
What do I have to do to become a writer? What steps must I follow?
Which authors should I read?
Should a novelist live dangerously?
What should I write about and how?
How do I know if what I write is any good and if it is worth the effort?
How not to write too much; how to synthesize without being too brief?
How do we spur our imagination?
Which literary bad habits should we avoid?
What should my first and last lines be like?
And what happens when the author is so exhausted that s/he has no ideas?
What is, exactly, a short-story?
Are there literatures distinctly male and female?
How to write a children’s story
Do writers who start late, in other words, who are no longer young, have any chance at success?
I hope you get a chance to check it out and help me spread the word. I enjoyed it enormously and it is particularly useful for people who are keen on writing but have not dared to try yet or people who have been writing for a while but need a bit of inspiration.
Thanks to Estrella and her sister Concha for the opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and CLICK!
I keep trying to share the reviews I haven’t brought you yet, hoping that when I’ve caught up I’ll share them as I read. Let’s see. Today it’s a pretty special one, funnily by an Argentinian author whom I happened to read in translation first. Oh well…
Ted has it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. That’s when the doorbell rings.
A stranger makes him a proposition: kill two deserving men before dying. The first is a criminal, and the second is, like Ted, terminally ill, and wants to die. If Ted kills these men he will then become a target himself in a kind of suicidal daisy chain—and won’t it be easier for his family if he’s a murder victim?
Kill The Next One is an audacious, immersive psychological thriller in which nothing is what it seems.
Federico Axat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1975. His earlier novels have been translated into Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Chinese. His third novel, Kill the Next One, was published as La última Salida in Spanish and has become an international sensation with rights sold in 33 territories. Axat’s novels stand out for their high dose of suspense, plot twists and unexpected endings. Kill the Next One is set in the United States, where Axat lived for a time before returning to his native Argentina.
‘An absorbing psychological thriller, perfectly measured and balanced. The nerve-racked reader cannot help but keep turning pages, lost in Axat’s labyrinthine twists.’ ABC (Spain)
‘A psychological thriller where nothing is what it seems…and where pieces are moved as in a game of chess.’ El Mundo
‘Take some drops of Hitchcock, the boldness of Jules Verne, the tricks of The Mystery of the Yellow Room, some Stephen King characters, the atmosphere of Shutter Island, Christopher Nolan’s film scripts, The Game, some episodes of Lost…and you won’t be able to put it down…[Kill the Next One] is a gripping, fast-paced read. A big Hollywood producer is already working on the film.’ La Vanguardia
‘With more twists than a double helix, Kill the Next One is a relentlessly-paced, unputdownable psychological thriller. It zigs one way, then zags another, providing the kind of stomach-clenching, unsettling suspense readers associate with Lauren Beukes and Stephen King…Expertly paced and plotted, and extremely visceral, with bucket-loads of surprises and genuine chills, it’s sure to be one of the most-talked about thrillers of the year. Let’s hope Kill the Next One isn’t Axat’s only book to receive an English translation. He’s a writer to watch, and this book is one to savour.’ Simon McDonald
‘Nightmare imagery, mind-bending plot twists, and a kaleidoscopic storytelling style lend Axat’s tale a vertiginous air, but at the core of this literary fever dream lies an elegantly crafted and emotionally resonant mystery that astonishes, devastates, and satisfies in equal measure.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Axat harnesses that uncertainty to build suspense and creates an intriguing, mind-bending thriller in the vein of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island.’ Booklist
‘Made up of four parts, as Kill the Next One moves from one section to the next, it pulls from beneath you any presumption you might have about where its story was headed.’ Bookbag
‘Section after section ends with a smashing revelation that what we thought we knew was at best only part of the truth, and at worst just wrong…a clever and elaborate reconstruction of the life of a man warped into an alibi for others’ Shots Magazine
Thanks to NetGalley and to Mulholland Books for offering me an ARC copy of the book that I voluntarily choose to review.
The description of the novel fascinated me both as a reader and as a psychiatrist, but although I couldn’t completely switch off the psychiatrist in me (probably even non-psychiatrist will be wondering about diagnostics and pathologies as they read), my review is as a reader. (I don’t think I could avoid spoilers if I tried to offer a psychiatric reading of the story, so I won’t).
I have seen quite a few comments comparing it to Christopher Nolan, Stephen King, to Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Alfred Hitchcock, all apt comparisons, and I did think of Spellbound at some point. It is a clever and complex story divided into four books, that reflect different levels of insight and understanding, as we progressively enter deeper and deeper into Ted’s, the main character, mind.
The story is told in the third person from the point of view of the protagonist, Ted, whom we meet at a moment of crisis. The novel starts with a bang that will grab most readers, and it gets complicated as it moves along. What seemed a morally complex choice facing the protagonist becomes… Well, it’s not easy to know what. It’s difficult to talk about this book without revealing any spoilers, but let’s say that the level of confusion the reader experiences mirrors well that experienced by the main character, who finds it difficult to know what is true and what is not, if the people he meets are real or not, and if the experiences and memories he revisits in his mind are, or have been, real, or are simply figments of his imagination. The readers find themselves in the shoes of the protagonist, questioning everything they read and wondering how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
The novel offers an explanation after another of what is happening and questions everything, from the soundness of mind of the protagonist and those around him to matters of identity, feelings, past and present, family relationships and notions of good and evil. It is a psychological thriller where we don’t even realise what really is at stake until quite late in the narration, which does not follow a standard format, and will fascinate those looking for something different and with an emphasis on the psychological.
The ending, that I did find more than satisfactory (although that might depend on the reader) made me question issues of narration once again and considering my fondness for unreliable narrators, although not narrated in the first person, this novel will definitely figure high in my list of recommendations. And I must try and make sure I read the author in Spanish too.
Thanks very much to NetGalley, to the author and publisher and especially to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!
Today I bring you a new book that’s very special to me. I read it and reviewed it in Spanish a while back and have known the author, Estrella Cardona Gamio, who has been writing for many years, and her sister Concha, who looks after the promotional and technical side of their small and independent publishing company, from early on in my publishing journey. After chatting about it, they decided to ask me to translate it, and now, it’s available in English. I share the translated version of my review too, so you can get some idea of why I liked it so much. And if you want to read more about the author and her views on her novel, you can check this interview in Lit World Interviews.
LETTER TO CHARO is not a novel like all the rest in its presentation. For starters, it is an epistolary novel, a genre that was fashionable in other eras and that has left us works like DANGEROUS LIAISONS to mention a particularly fine example. It’s a very interesting genre because through its structure, and in the first-person, intimate stories are narrated that slowly reveal the most closely guarded secrets of its characters.
In LETTER TO CHARO, the reader will find the story of two friends who’ve known each other from childhood and carried on being friends through the years and the distance when the husband of one of them, for work reasons, has to move to London with his family. Throughout the years they exchange letters, until a certain day when an event that has nothing to do with either of them, the death of a famous Italian cinema actor, Marcello Mastroianni, sends them on a trip down memory lane unearthing confidences that had been hiding for decades and discovering two people who are complete strangers to each other.
Another peculiar characteristic of this novel is that the letters that are exchanged between the protagonists open with one dated the same day when I first started writing LETTER TO CHARO, and, the intervals between the letters are authentic. The truth is that I wrote the novel as if its protagonists were dictating it to me.
In this work, romantic and sentimental, you’ll find various degrees of love revealed in detail: tenderness, nostalgia, rivalry, egotism, envy, jealousy and uncontrollable and wild passion. You should not miss it, follow my advice.
I have tried to respect the style of the author and the sense of urgency and closeness of the correspondence written to (mostly) those close to us, which follows the style of our speech and the wanders of our mind, rather than grammar rules or best-practice when writing formal texts. I have adapted casual expressions but have always tried to maintain the meaning and the spirit of the original.
With regards to titles of books and/or movies mentioned in the book, I’ve adopted the ones more commonly used, although sometimes different editions or movies in different countries might be known by different titles. I have added only a few parenthetical notes where I felt that the general reading public might not be familiar with the term and it is fundamental to follow the gist of the story.
I am very grateful to the author and to her sister for giving me the opportunity to translate this short novel that I fell in love with as a reader.
Here my own review translated:
This is an epistolary novel collecting the letters exchanged between two friends that know each other from youth but have been living in two different countries for years (one in Barcelona, Spain, and the other one in London, UK), and other letters of those close to them (sometimes characters that are important to the story, like Charo’s husband, Antonio, others that are minor characters, like Francis, her friend’s son), and even from characters whose relationship with the two friends is tangential at best (like the last letter, that adds a totally external perspective to the situation). Nowadays, when real letters are falling from grace, it’s wonderful to bring them back and realise how many things can be said (and left unsaid) using that form of social interaction.
In the novel’s description, the author reveals to us her creation process. The date of the first letter is the actual date when she began to write the story and perhaps that explains partly why these letters feel so vivid and authentic. Although the novel is short, we get to know the characters (even though sometimes our impressions might be wrong), through their exchanges with others, through what they tell us, and what they don’t. Love stories, stories of lost loves, dreams, mistakes, misunderstandings, and the day to day of living together that each person experiences differently. Friendships that aren’t so and routines that we don’t quite know why we keep going.
I loved the characters that feel familiar and recognisable but not because of their conventionality. The letters and the style of each one reflect perfectly the personalities of the characters and the differences between them. And the references to other eras and situations make us share in the atmosphere and the experiences of the protagonists. The author proves that long expositions and pages and pages of descriptions are not necessary to develop not only a story but even two lives.
I read a comment where the reader said the novel had reminded him of ‘Cinco horas con Mario’ (Five Hours with Mario by Miguel Delibes) and it’s true that some of the letters felt like confessions, be it because they aren’t sent to the addressee (and therefore become letters to oneself) or because the author of the letters explains things to a reader that perhaps exists only in his or her imagination (because the real recipient is not the person they have created in their minds).
I recommend it to all those who enjoy a fresh read, brief and of great quality, with characters that will make you think. I am sure that from now on I’ll always remember this novel every time I watch one of Marcello Mastroianni’s movies.
As you know I normally bring you new books and authors on Fridays. And as you also know, apart from writing and having done a few other things in my life (yes, being a psychiatrist too), I translate books from English to Spanish and vice versa, not only my own books, but also those of others.
Today I bring you a book I’ve translated for a fellow indie author, Javier Haro Herraiz, from Spain, a great supporter of indie authors and a prolific writer in a variety of genres, and who has a great love for superheroes, comics and horror. His writing style is pretty unique (you’ll either get it or it will drive you mad. I’ve done my best to not change it too much in the translation), as he seems to write comics without words. His novels are in general short, dynamic, and they are graced with a narrator that you will either love or hate (yes, it’s a Marmite kind of situation).
Here is the book:
Dark Prophecy by Javier Haro Herráiz
And from the Darkness a Warrior born in Heaven and bred in the Underworld will arrive… And a young dark skinned woman with blue eyes will arrive to unite them all under the same cloak… And the one who swore to protect us will rebel against the human race… And the day will arrive when a Big War between Heaven and Hell will be unleashed, and that day there will be death and wailing everywhere…
To give you a better idea of the book, I read the original Spanish version and wrote a review quite a while back, so I thought I’d translate it for you (although of course it does not reflect the translation side of things)
My review (of the Spanish original):
If one could say that there is a ‘norm’ with regards to novels, Javier Haro Herráiz’s novels do not adhere to it.
In general his novels are short and have the feel of a novel by installments (or perhaps a better comparison would be a comic or a serial like the old ones shown in the cinema, where Pauline was tied up to the railway line and we didn’t know what would happen until next week) where each episode could be read independently, and therefore I recommend them if you don’t have a lot of time and only read a few minutes at a time. And as it’s usual in these type of stories there is also an invisible narrator who reminds us where we were or where the action was when we last left it (and that can have a surprising effect if we read it all in one go).
The author, who has more than his fair share of original ideas and entangled situations, puts his trust in his readers hoping that they’ll be as creative as he is, and his descriptions of the action, the events or the characters are basic and brief, to allow each and all readers to create their own movies in their heads. In that universe, all women are beautiful and all men, are well, men.
Dark Prophecy opens up with a suggestion full of possibilities. The birth of a new Messiah in complex circumstances. I won’t give you any spoilers, but although you know the basic story, the details will surprise you. What do you think a modern Messiah born nowadays would do? How would this Messiah spread the message? Would the reception given to such Messiah be better or worse than to the previous one?
Personally I thought that the characters and the situations could have been further explored, but I can’t deny that the novel made me think, intrigued me and I read it very quickly.
A comic without drawings, or a postmodern novel centred on the surface and the banality of modern life. I’ll let you decide for yourselves. I’m waiting to see what the author’s universe brings us next.
Ah, and last minute, but the audio for my novella Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings has just become available. At the moment in Audible and Amazon but it should be available in other places soon.
Here I leave you a sample in Sound Cloud and You Tube so you can check the fabulous narration of Marlin May. He’s told me he’s also available to adapt books written in UK English to US English (I’m sure you all remember Wendy Janes’s great post about the differences between the two. You can refresh your memory here).
I’ll let you know when I get the free codes, but for now, just check this sample:
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Narrated by Marlin May
How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.
Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to EscapingPsychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.
If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
First of all it’s Friday and as you know I usually bring you new authors and books. I have featured this writer, Mo de la Fuente, in my blog before, and shared some of her novels in Spanish. I was lucky enough that she decided to have one of them translated to English (she took advantage of my special offer in March, 50% discount… I might do it again, but there’s always a deal to be had for my author friends and fellow bloggers). I recently shared my review of her novel in Spanish (that has nothing to do with me), and what I decided to do today, was share that review (translated to English) with you.
The review is not reflection of my own work (the author has very kindly said that she prefers my version to hers) but I enjoyed the original, as you’ll see from my review. I also share the author’s page in Amazon, that is available in bilingual version.
The Quiet Island by Mo de la Fuente
As dawn breaks, the usual calm of a tiny quiet Mediterranean island is shattered by the news. A teenage girl has gone missing. Inspector Villanueva, temporarily transferred to the island, and sub-inspector Esteller must fight against the elements, the lack of resources, and their own demons to solve the mystery of what happened in a place where nothing ever does.
Here my review, of the original (no reflection of my own work):
I don’t read exclusively a single genre, although I freely admit that I like thrillers and mystery books and I read quite a few of them. In part because they are like a puzzle we try to solve thanks to the clues the text gives us, in part because I like to see how the writer manages to bring something new to the genre. And for me, no matter what type of story I’m reading, finding interesting characters I can connect with it’s the most important thing.
This novel takes place in the small island of Tabarca, in the Mediterranean, off the shore of Alicante. As several of the reviews of the book point out, reading the novel makes one want to visit it, because of the wonderful descriptions of the peace and quiet, the thought of a place with no cars, without pollution, and calm. In such a small place, where everybody knows everybody else (apart from the tourists, of course) and where nothing ever happens, a girl’s disappearance is an event that upsets everyone. And when Clara turns up dead, things only take a turn for the worse. The combination of the place and the setting with the investigators: Hernán, an inspector sent there god knows why, Mónica, who had been sub-inspector in Barcelona but decided to quit due to personal reasons, and Raúl, the only one not hiding from something and who is totally happy there, works beautifully.
The investigation is hindered by circumstances (even with the arrival of the inspector, there are only three police officers in the island, there’s no lab, and no way to follow correct protocol) and the lack of resources (an excellent commentary on the budget cuts Spain is suffering), and little by little we discover more details about the island’s inhabitants and about the members of the police. I really enjoyed the ending (that I won’t talk about in detail as I don’t want to spoil the surprise) and it rounds up a novel that, although short, is long enough to intrigue and touch us.
I found Mónica’s personal story, closely related to the case, fascinating, and it would make a great novel (or more than one) on its own. Quite aside from the details, for me the author manages to portray complex psychological aspects and the reactions of the characters in a very accurate manner, by using several points of view, that help the reader get under the skin of the characters, sharing in their emotions and their life experiences. For me, Mónica, María (the victim’s mother) and the island of Tabarca stand out in the narration and I’m sure I won’t forget them in a hurry.
I recommend this book to readers who love mystery novels that go beyond the usual, psychological thrillers and extraordinary settings.
Mo de la Fuente (Salamanca, Spain) studied Translation and Audiovisual Communication at the University of Salamanca and Westminster School of Languages (London). She is an official translator and “Ojalá Paula” is her first novel. Besides, she writes and produces short films.
If you want to learn more about the autor, her novel and her interests, visit her blog http://ojalapaula.blogspot.com.es/
As you know on Fridays I usually bring you new books and guest authors and today, I bring you an author who has featured in my blog before, Enrique Laso. The circumstances are a bit special, as this is book two in his very successful psychological thriller series of Ethan Bush, and it’s still more special because I’ve translated this novel.
As I read the original in the process, of course, I decided to give you my impressions in an informal review. The review is of the story, not of my efforts translating the book (and we’ve counted with Express Editing Solutions invaluable services too), but I thought you might find it interesting.
A NEW ETHAN BUSH NOVEL
The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit special agent Ethan Bush must investigate a serial killer in Nebraska… A GRIPPING HEART-STOPPING THRILLER The monster lives in each one of us. We are beasts that have learned, over the centuries, to control ourselves, to restrain our basic instincts and live peacefully in society. We are, after all, fully domesticated and well-trained beasts.
Only on rare occasions, the wild animal that hides deep in our entrails goes on a rampage, giving rise to an insane nightmare… If you enjoyed novels like ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ or TV series as ‘Criminal Minds’ or ‘True Detective’… this is the story that you have been waiting for. FROM THE NOVEL:
The county police had cordoned off the zone less than an hour after the boys’ find. A pathologist established that the remains were human, although a large part of the skeleton was missing. In fact, what was missing was what would have been most helpful in the task of identifying the body: the cranium.
“Do you have any clues as to how long have those bones been here?” the sheriff asked, perplexed. His head was full of the terror that he knew would grab hold of his entire community just a few hours later.
“Not long. And one of the boys has told us that he comes for walks in this area often and they weren’t here a few days ago.”
“But this stiff croaked some years ago, don’t you think?” asked the sheriff, pointing at what looked like a tibia. Never in his life had he seen such a thing, and it perturbed him.
The pathologist looked at the grayish sky, where clouds were growing and thickening threatening to release a good downpour. But that storm would only be a child’s game in comparison with what was hanging over the county where he lived.
“I don’t know,” he replied, laconic.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” asked the sheriff, who felt he’d got a completely senseless answer. These were the remains of a skeleton; therefore one didn’t need to be an eminence in medicine to deduct that the guy, no matter who the hell he or she was, would have stopped breathing a very long time ago.
“These bones have been thoroughly cleaned. They have been manipulated. Without studying them in detail, right now I can’t tell you if the owner died yesterday or over ten years ago.”
THE BLUE CRIMES review on Amazon: ‘And so proceeds Enrique’s THE BLUE CRIMES and the manner in which he places Ethan Bush and team in the resolution of crime is tense, suspenseful, and at all times involving. This is quality mystery writing by a voice new to most of us – a welcome addition to the thriller genre’ Grady Harp, TOP-100 Reviewer/ Hall of Fame/ Vine Voice
Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. The second Ethan Bush novel. Translation Olga Núñez Miret. You don’t need to be weird to solve the case, but it helps.
As I had mentioned when I read the first novel in this series, thrillers that purport to follow the investigation of complex crimes usually have two fundamental elements that go almost hand in hand: the crimes and the investigation (which allow the readers to put their wits to the test), and the investigators, individuals or teams, and less often, the criminals.
It is true that if the crimes are highly intriguing or very strange the book might be interesting even when those doing the investigating aren’t gripping individuals. On the other hand, there are times when the personality and the adventures of those doing the detecting are more interesting than the crimes themselves (as is the case in many ‘cozy mysteries’ like many of Agatha Christie’s novels). The best novels of the genre manage to achieve a balance between the two.
Shiny Bones has a bit of everything. The case is extremely convoluted and twisted, clearly the work of a complex and traumatised mind (and no, I’m not taking about the writer), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to solve, quite the opposite.
And we also have Ethan Bush, an FBI psychologist who comes back, as arrogant, intelligent and annoying as before (in The Blue Crimes). The mature Etan Bush of years later offers us his comments and reflections, not only about the case (where he keeps many things quiet, of course), but also about his own actions, therefore acting as an ersatz reader (or perhaps more accurately, author).
This time Ethan doesn’t have his team at his disposal (that in fact is not “his” team, as his boss keeps reminding him throughout the novel), and he’s obliged to work with the Nebraska State Patrol, the local force, and has to try and reach a compromise with them, although that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to use all the tricks in the book to get his own way. His intelligence, his skill manipulating people, and even his feelings are put to the test in this case that’s a big challenge for him.
To those of you who enjoy solving the cases whilst you read the novel, I’m afraid I have to tell you that, although you’ll have many suspects, you won’t be able to guess who did it. Even with that it will make you think and question many things.
Personally I am eager to go back to Kansas to discover who murdered Sharon Nichols, a case that’s central to The Blue Crimes but never solved, and I’m waiting anxiously the arrival of Las libélulas azules (The blue dragonflies).
As I mention above I’m happy to disclose that I’ve translated the novel. The book has also undergone professional editing/proof-reading. Due to this circumstance I haven’t shared this review in selling channels, although the original is a review of the Spanish novel, rather than of my own efforts in translation.
Just in case you’d like to know more, I interviewed Enrique for Lit World Interviews, here and I reviewed his first novel in the series The Blue Crimes, here.
Ah, if you think you’d like to know more about getting you books translated, in this page I talk about it (I talk about other things too but, keep reading…). I believe every author and every book deserves the chance to reach a wide international audience and to be read by as many people as possible, and I’d love to help achieve that with my translations. If you want to see examples of books I’ve translated, you can check here.
Oh, and before I forget, I’m taking part in a wonderful GIVEAWAY organised by fabulous author and always hard at work promoting others Marie Lavender. You can visit her blog here. If you want to be in with a chance to win an incredible collection of FREE BOOKS (more than 100 books to be won and more than 215 chances to win), come to this page from 12 PM EST pm 15th January:
It runs from today, the 15th of January until the 23rd, so be quick!
Thanks so much to Enrique for the book and the opportunity to work in such a successful series, thanks to Marie for inviting me to participate in the giveaway, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know, like, share, comment and CLICK!
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