Writer: Mariana Enriquez (translated by Megan McDowell)
Publishing House: Hogarth Press
Date of Publication: January 12th 2021 (first published November 2009)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Or she’d hear a rooster crow in the middle of the night and remember – but who had told her? that at that hour of the night a rooster’s crow was a sign that someone was going to die.’’
Mariana Enriquez’s stories are merciless. They are brutal, raw, savage. They haunt you, they violate your mind and your soul. They are full of terrors, despair, obsession. Ghosts are desperate. Humans are cruel. Teenage dreams are burnt, children are threatened, women and men find themselves in limbo. This is the marriage of the macabre, the lyrical, the violent. This is a cry and a howl. A dance of demons staring into our souls. And it is magnificent.
Angelita Unearthed: When a young girl discovers a few small bones in her grandma’s backyard, she has no idea that a very persistent baby ghost has been unearthed. A very creepy, yet tender story.
Our Lady of the Quarry: A story of obsession, deadly jealousy and witchcraft. Eerie, visceral, sad.
The Cart: When a homeless man is horribly mistreated by the residents of a small neighbourhood, a terrible curse falls on their heads.
The Well: A girl destroys her life through her obsession with curses, spells and omens. A tragic story, rich in South American Folklore. Brilliant!
Rambla Triste: I don’t want to comment on this story. It painted Barcelona and its tourists in terrible colours and the children’s ghosts subplot didn’t really work for me.
The Lookout: The Lady Upstairs resides in an old hotel in a seaside town that is a magnet for tourists. The Lady Upstairs doesn’t care about them. The Lady Upstairs has been searching for the One and Elina, haunted by a nightmarish past, seems the perfect candidate. You will remember this story for a long time…
Where Are You, Dear Heart?:A young woman falls desperately in love with the beating of hearts. A terrifying combination of pleasure and pain, a story that is raw, sensual and lyrical.
Meat: A rock star’s suicide drives two dedicated fans to commit heinous actions in order to ‘’keep’’ him with them forever. Αn extraordinary story of devotion, obsession and sheer madness.
No Birthdays or Baptisms: A strange film-maker records videos requested by people whose motives range from shady to downright criminal. When a mother asks him to record her daughter who is plagued by a dark presence, he will need to reconsider his ‘’vocation’’. I don’t know how to describe this story. It was extremely bleak, violent even but it is one that has stuck in my mind ever since.
Kids Who Come Back: A young woman who works in the social services responsible for the cases of missing children becomes personally involved in the case of a teenage girl and the strange circumstances of her disappearance. And then, missing children start coming back as if time had frozen for them.
The Dangers of Smoking In Bed: The sad thoughts of a lonely woman prompted by a sudden death and a nocturnal butterfly.
Back When We Talked to the Dead: The silly game with an Ouija board goes horribly wrong for a girl who desperately searches for her missing parents.
If Mariana Enriquez doesn’t win the International Booker Prize (which will probably happen since everything is about promotions and politics these days…), I shall be mad to the High Heavens…
‘’Yes, desperate people stayed at the hotel. Yes, she’d heard them mutter death wishes and she’d bestowed on them dreams of terrible childhoods and forgotten pain. But none had been ready. And it was a lie that time didn’t pass for being like her. She was tired. She longed for each summer to be the last, and she spent more and more time in the lookout tower, where she could barely hear the whisper of the living, which she knew how to imitate so weill, but could not comprehend.’’