Title: Coyote Songs
Author: Gabino Iglesias
Page Count: 114 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨✨
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.
“God works in mysterious ways, thought the coyote for a second, but he gets really fucking weird when it comes to poor people and dangerous places.”
With our current political climate being what it is in our country right now, this book is one that I couldn’t possibly recommend highly enough. It can be incredibly easy for people in places of privilege to remain removed and disconnected from what’s happening around them right now by putting down their phones or turning off their TVs, but it’s important to remain aware and engaged – even if it isn’t always easy. From the threat of a separatist wall to children being ripped out of the arms of their families, ignorance as bliss isn’t really a viable option, and there are very real threats to large numbers of people that are made worse every day thanks to our current government.
Formatted as a mosaic novel (a book using individual stories or chapters sharing a common setting or theme to tell an overall story), Coyote Songs is so many things at once – heartbreaking, terrifying, frustrating, compelling, hopeful. Told from varying unique perspectives, the tear and blood-stained threads of each character’s story weave themselves seamlessly together into a haunting tapestry that paints an honest picture of their commonality – la frontera.
It would be hard to categorize Coyote Songs into a single genre, but I’ll try for the sake of simplicity. There are elements of horror – and maybe that would be the best one to use, as horror is such an all encompassing genre that it can cover more than most. From the terror of losing a loved one to the horrifying experience of literally giving birth to some sort of demon creature every night, there’s no shortage of horror to be found here – definitely not.
Iglesias’ writing is visceral and beautiful, blending the use of both Spanish and English with such perfect fluidity that lends itself to the characters and the story they’re telling. Each character’s chapters are distinct in their voices, and Iglesias doesn’t lose a single bit of his steam from beginning to end in telling their tales. I will admit that from the first chapter alone, I gasped and almost dropped my book, and then cried – and that wasn’t the only time my tear ducts decided to say hello during my read of this one.
My personal favorite chapters were those of Alma, Jaime, & The Coyote. Each of these characters dealt with such a different set of circumstances in their lives, and all dealt with choices playing a big part in their stories. From Alma’s anger at the white men in power trying to use and discard her, to Jaime’s backfired attempt at familial protection, to the Coyote’s quest to save the children he can; there’s a depth that only some horror can achieve, and I think that’s what’s so powerful here. The clear passion, the pain, the fury in the writing is almost palpable, making Coyote Songs more than just a book: it’s an experience, and an important one.
Five stars to this one, and I’ll be buying more by Gabino Iglesias in the future. If you’ve been debating getting this one, or just looking for something new to read – buy it!
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