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{Book Review} Coyote Songs: The One Book This Year That Ruined Me

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias is a book that is going to pass some people by and that’s a shame. Everyone needs to read this book. It is important, it is powerful, and it has never been more relevant. This is a book about America.  Specifically, it’s about Hispanic Americans both legal and illegal. It’s about mothers, women, and violence. This book broke me. I won’t lie, I cried, then I cried some more, and cried some more, and maybe a little more after that. Coyote Songs is a powerful book that demands to be read. It’s important and it’s meaningful.

Coyote Songs is a hard book to describe. Gabino Iglesias calls it a barrio noir, and I’d agree with that description. There’s elements of horror, crime, literary fiction, and even some bizarro elements, too. This novel follows the lives of several people who live legally and illegally in a fictional border area between Texas and Mexico. The characters include a young boy named Pedrito who is looking for revenge after a fishing trip with his father goes horribly wrong. A woman named The Mother who has something monstrous growing inside her. A nameless Coyote who traffics people across the border and he believes he can talk to the Virgin Mother. Jamie, a character who just wants to be free, but his circumstances don’t allow him the freedom he desires. Alma, an artist who’s tired of the Mexicans and illegal immigrants being exploited for profit and by political talking heads. La Bruja the ghost of a woman who was left alone in a van driven by a Coyote and burned to death in the middle of the desert. These narratives connect together in surprising ways and that creates an impact on the reader full of feeling and emotion.

Gabino Iglesias can write, like, really write. This man has a lot of heart, a lot of passion, and his prose is super tight. Reading this book, you can tell this story is important to him, it’s a book made out of love and hatred; made out of contempt. He’s angry and he has something to say, and he’s going to say it, beautifully. This book is a powerhouse of emotion, you’re going to cry, you’re going to be angry, and you’re going to be horrified. This book has everything a horror, crime, or literature fan could want in a book. A searing political message, well-developed characters, and some intense scenes of action and violence. This book is often categorized as a crime novel.  That is far, it’s a crime book, but it’s also horror. Some truly horrifying stuff happens in this book that will disgust you and haunt your dreams.

Once in a while, I come across a book that reminds me of why I fell in love with reading. Reading is an escape for me, but it’s also artistic. Reading is about emotion. This book did to me the same thing Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner did. When I finished Absalom, I put the book down and stared at my wall for at least half an hour. The final line kept on repeating in my head. That book hit me hard, and it hit me good. This book did the exact same thing to me. I cried. Not once, but a few different times. This book is an emotional powerhouse and it seems Gabino Iglesias was in a super emotional place when he wrote this. This is an important book and a book that matters. If you consider yourself a horror fan, a crime fan, or a book fan in general, stop reading this review and buy the book. You have no idea what you’re missing.

One final thing I will add. This book has a lot of Spanish in it. It’s not necessary that you know Spanish (I don’t), but it helps. I used my kindle’s translate feature a lot while I was reading it, but even so, I could understand everything that was going on without understanding those short spurts of Spanish dialogue. You need to approach this book with an open mind, this is a horror book, but it’s a work of literature. Literature isn’t meant to be easy, you need to put in work, you need to think, and you need to feel. Approach this book with an open mind, and you’ll be rewarded with a good experience.