Twenty-four year old Daniella is an architecture student living with her narcissistic artist boyfriend in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Daniella always falls for the wrong type of man. Her most enduring male relationship so far is with her 30-pound Turkish angora cat. Thankfully, Daniella's mother is always there to offer a shoulder. Several strange mysteries are threaded through Daniella's everyday life: her ex-husband, Ismael, has just opened an outlandish hotel for animal lovers that has her distraught; Ismael's wife, a rich woman Daniella fondly refers to as "Lady Dracula," has some gruesome ways to keep her skin looking young; Daniella's mother is founding a revolutionary, feminist society called The Praying Mantises; the island's national forest is being depleted of hallucinogenic mushrooms; meanwhile, young girls are disappearing and there's a nut loose dressed as Zorro slashing the rear ends of women who wear miniskirts. Oppressed by all these crazed, eccentric characters, Daniella feels herself falling into an abyss. Then something horrendous happens, making Daniella wake from her stupor and take charge of her life.
Reviewed by: Sandra L
Rating: 4 stars
First off: the cover—confusing but alluring, like a painting you can’t take your eyes off of.
Then we get into the story. Daniella is a college student—nice, friendly, normal. I wonder why she was hanging out with such weird (and crazy) people, like her art critic ex-husband and his gothic, witch-like wife or her dope-smoking, live-in boyfriend that hates her cat. Was she lost or confused or something?
At times, I felt Daniella had no mind of her own. She says she wants to be “free of men” but yet she does nothing about it. Did she have “daddy issues?” Maybe it would’ve added more to the story if we had learned more about Daniella’s absent father figure.
The whole story has many different points of view, but it is mainly told from the eyes of Daniella—a pro in my column, because I know who is the “star.” I am always concerned with multi-POVs because there is usually a lack of focus; but this book didn’t have that issue.
Another character I found interesting was Zorro, the crazy psycho who makes his mark with a huge “Z” on womens’ bare ass. Very funny!
With Zorro suddenly in the mix, it made me question on whether this was a thriller or a mystery? Was the objective to catch Zorro and bring him to justice?
I thought the whole animal hotel from Ismael, Daniella’s ex, was of little interest to me. At times, I didn’t even read the whole paragraph on it. But don’t be fooled! As you approach the end, strange mysteries—dark and gory—spring out of nowhere and you can’t wait to unravel them all. Is Ismael a mushroom dealer? Is “Lady Dracula” a real vampire? The end will leave you shocked.
The writing was very well-crafted with words so raw, so dark and putrid, and yet so unrequitedly beautiful.
My favorite quote is: “If [Daniella] could choose a place to die, she would choose a bookstore, a coffin made of hardcover mystery books.” (pg. 113) From here, it goes on listing the many different books out there—intelligent, boring, insightful, disgusting, maddening, books that will help you accomplish something in less that 7 days, etc.