Writer: Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)
Publishing House: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Date of Publication: February 19th 2020 (first published May 12th 2017)
Rating: 3 stars
‘’They called her the Witch, the same as her mother; the Young Witch when she first started trading in curses and cures, and the, when she wound up alone, the year of the landslide, simply the Witch.’’
In a community where womanhood and equality are violated on a daily basis, the Witch becomes a mirror for actions that define the very character of the residents. Either a Witch or an Angel, she is there to bless and curse and cure while the women and the men of the village keep on hurting one another, while prostitution, violence and murder thrive. Devil is dancing, rituals are rumoured to take place, the spirits of the dead roam the land, La Llorona and La Nina de Blanco terrify the people. Each figure, each superstition becomes a blatant justification for all the hatred, the injustice, the discrimination, the mistrust, the poverty, the suffocation. Each chapter is a long paragraph, an endless scream for a world that seems stale, trapped in its own faults, unwilling to change.
Fernanda Melchor surely produces a powerful reading experience. However, the writing style troubled me significantly. I have no problem at all with the always-controversial stream-of-consciousness technique, but the frenzy, the hysteria, the violence, the endless wails made me breathless and at times exhausted and exasperated. Therefore, I can’t say I thoroughly loved this particular reading experience. The last chapters became too vulgar, too cheap and shocking for the sake of it. I am not bothered by vulgarity and graphic violence as long as my tiny brain can fathom the actual purpose of it. In this case, I wasn’t convinced and I confess I skipped the last pages, wanting the novel to end.
All in all, my expectations weren’t met.
‘’They say she never really died, because witches don’t go without a fight.’’