Coyote Songs – Gabino Iglesias
Reviewed by D.K. Hundt
Coyote Songs, a barrio noir published by Broken River Books, is the first novel that I’ve read by Gabino Iglesias and is one of my 2018 favorites. Coyote Songs is a mosaic of horror/crime, but at its core, at the very heart of this novel and that of the characters within, resides love, loss, anger, revenge, and hope. In this novel, ‘ghosts and old gods guide the hands of those caught up in a violent struggle to save the soul of the American southwest.’ As you read this book, you will follow the lives of Pedrito, The Mother, The Coyote, Jaime, Alma, and La Bruja by way of a gripping narrative that unfolds through alternating chapters, which is a writing style that I like. The life stories within this book that ripped my heart out and resonated with me the most are Pedrito’s, The Mother’s, The Coyote, and La Bruja’s.
Pedrito – As I followed Pedrito’s story, memories of fishing with my father and grandfather as a child rose to the surface, thoughts easily conjured by something as innocent or heartbreaking as a smell. For young Pedrito, the smell of putrefying fish meat and congealing blood meant being outside and spending time with his father, Don Pedro, as he cut chunks of bait used for catching alligator gar; a memory that later becomes tainted, playing over and over in a twisted loop of horror in Pedrito’s mind after he witnesses a senseless murder.
The Mother – The Mother didn’t know what to call the evil thing that forced images of her dead husband into her mind, though she didn’t bear witness to this heinous crime, somehow, she knew it was true. ‘For the past few nights, the Mother had contemplated emptiness. She felt hollow despite her round, taut belly and the stirring creature inside it.’
The Coyote – The coyote stopped the truck in the middle of the desert and got out, the Texas sun beating down on him and the four children who cowered in the back. He hated doing what had to come next, but, ‘he knew La Virgencita would bless them, he was sure of it.’ ‘If they look too good, too healthy, the fucking gringos will do everything in their power to send them back to whatever hell they came from . . . Pain is sometimes the only path to deliverance.’
La Bruja – Inmaculada had no choice but to leave Piedras Negras, her people, including her mother, behind. She had already lost one son to gang violence, and she refused to let that happen again. ‘Death is inevitable, but obstacles can get in the way. ‘We live here,’ her husband Rafael often said, but life is on the other side of the river. To live surrounded by death is not to live, it is to survive.’’ On the night the coyote came to get them, they had been instructed to pack lightly, bringing only the essentials, that they now carried on their backs, and within their hearts resides hope and dreams for a better life that may never come.
There’s a quote that has stuck with me long after reading this novel, words that even now bring tears to my eyes:
‘The thing that had screamed that night was the soul of a shattered, hurt mother facing the loss of everything she loved, and that is something even the Devil should fear.’
Coyote Songs is a powerful reflection of the turbulent climate we live in today, and a novel I highly recommend reading!! Change is needed in this country, and not at the expense of those wanting a better life, in my opinion.
In closing, if my review or the synopsis of Coyote Songs sparks your interest, then, by all means, take a bite and delve into the creative mind of the author – you may be surprised what you find lurking within.
In Gabino Iglesias’ second novel, ghosts and old gods guide the hands of those caught up in a violent struggle to save the soul of the American southwest.
A man tasked with shuttling children over the border believes the Virgin Mary is guiding him towards final justice.
A woman offers colonizer blood to the Mother of Chaos.
A boy joins corpse destroyers to seek vengeance for the death of his father.
These stories intertwine with those of a vengeful spirit and a hungry creature to paint a timely, compelling, pulpy portrait of revenge, family, and hope.
D. K. Hundt is an American writer with a BA degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not writing contemporary fiction and horror/supernatural stories, she likes to spend her free time working as a volunteer in her community, being a minion for her cat Simon, warding off carnivorous spiders, and throwing herself into and around the dark alleyways of Stephen King novels in search of inspiration. D. K. resides in California with her husband, and she is currently working on a horror novel titled, Cheveyo–a story about a young boy who goes to live with his grandpa on a reservation, and soon discovers that the malevolent creatures that lurk in the Okanogan Forest aren’t the only deadly secret the locals are hiding.
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