by Leopoldo Gout
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Pub Date 14 Mar 2023 | Archive Date Not set
Tor Publishing Group, Tor Nightfire
A Best Horror Book of the Year (Esquire)!
A Head Full of Ghosts meets Mexican Gothic in Piñata, a terrifying possession tale by author and artist Leopoldo Gout.
It was supposed to be the perfect summer.
Carmen Sanchez is back in Mexico, supervising the renovation of an ancient abbey. Her daughters Izel and Luna, too young to be left alone in New York, join her in what Carmen hopes is a chance for them to connect with their roots.
Then, an accident at the worksite unearths a stash of rare, centuries-old artifacts. The disaster costs Carmen her job, cutting the family trip short.
But something malevolent and unexplainable follows them home to New York, stalking the Sanchez family and heralding a coming catastrophe. And it may already be too late to escape what’s been awakened…
They were worshiped by our ancestors.
Now they are forgotten.
Soon, they’ll make us remember.
Available on NetGalley
Piñata by Leopoldo Gout is a possession story unlike any other. Single mom Carmen and her two daughters are on a work trio to Mexico where Carmen is overseeing the renovations of an old church. Full of rich descriptions of Mexican and Aztec lore, this horror novel has so many things working for it. Creepy history, creepy bugs, and creepy kids make this a book that you’ll want to read with the light on!
It’s been a long time since I had to stop reading a book at night because it started to creep me out! I loved all the history and lore and religion in this book. While the writing wasn’t overly descriptive, it was enough to make this world come alive. Also the themes of colonialism and social commentary set with Mexico as the background was very interesting to read about. As someone who really loves history, I loved all the details in this book.
This book is definitely a slow burn but once it takes off, it is so creepy. We switch between a few different perspectives so you get a really rounded out story. I think Carmen is such an interesting main character to follow because she has this inner battle she is dealing with over whether or not her decisions are best for her kids. I think as a mom, this was very relatable. Then you add a possession on top of it and it becomes, less relatable but not by much (parents of preteens can probably vouch that a possessed child and a preteen attitude are not very different).
I don’t want to go into too many details about the actual possession part of the story because it’s a book that’s best to go into pretty blind but if you like slow moving, atmospheric horror that feels very cinematic in scope, this would be a great book for you.
A HUGE thank you to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book early!
A Head Full of Ghosts meets Mexican Gothic in Piñata, a terrifying possession tale by author and artist Leopoldo Gout. They were worshiped by our ancestors. Now they are forgotten. Soon, they’ll make us remember. It was supposed to be the perfect summer. Carmen Sanchez is back in Mexico, supervising the renovation of an ancient abbey. Her daughters Izel and Luna, too young to be left alone in New York, join her in what Carmen hopes is a chance for them to connect with their roots. Then, an accident at the worksite unearths a stash of rare, centuries-old artifacts. The disaster costs Carmen her job, cutting the family trip short. But something malevolent and unexplainable follows them home to New York, stalking the Sanchez family and heralding a coming catastrophe. And it may already be too late to escape what’s been awakened…
4/5 stars ⭐️
I completely agree that this book is Mexican Gothic meets A Head Full of Ghosts. Wowwww!!
I was hooked instantly with this one. The combination of horror, cultural elements, and contemporary elements made this story incredibly engaging. Not to mention that I had a number of visceral reactions to the descriptions in this story. Who wouldn’t when swarms of bugs are involved?!?!
I have also never read anything by this author, but I liked the writing a lot, as well. I think the overall execution was well done.
The one critique that I would have is the ending. I feel like the author did a great job at building up the suspense, explaining the backstory and setting us up for an epic ending. However, though the ending wrapped things up nicely, I just felt like it could have had that extra little bit to make the final confrontation a little moreeeee suspenseful. For a horror book, I think it was a little too predictable and I would have liked just that little bit more to push it over the edge.
“They were worshiped by our ancestors.
Now they are forgotten.
Soon, they’ll make us remember.“
Talk about a raw story about colonialism, revenge from the Aztec gods and a well written thought provoking slow-burn with incredible characters horror novel with incredible mesoamerican representation.
I absolutely loved this one! I was sumerges in the story from the very first pages and I just couldn’t put it down. I just want to give a heads up to allow yourself to digest the prologue and then start the novel and give the story time to evolve, , I promise you it will be worth your while!
Thank you Netgalley and Tor night fire for an arc of this incredible novel.
I love stories that delve into different cultures, long forgotten history except for those who choose to preserve it. I think this went really well, except I would have liked more background information. I kept expecting the possession aspect to kick in and was surprised how long it took for that to go full force. While everything was executed well and the story kept me interested from the start, it felt like the ending was a bit rushed, or that we might have missed something when focusing on one of the other characters. I would definitely recommend this to readers as it's a beautiful cover and the story does seem fresh.
This is a solid horror that builds up the dread slowly. I loved the layers and exposition and the complex dynamics between Carmen as a Mexican American woman returning for work purposes to Mexico, and the ensuing layers between her and the locals, the Catholic church and indigenous folks, and past traumas of colonization still relevant in present day. There's a juxtaposition between modern day conflicts (border patrols, cartels, femicide) and generations-old conflicts (religious violence/indoctrination, colonization) and the book does an excellent job showing how old conflicts still remain intermingled with the present conflicts. Of course, all of this is explored while the constant dread and thrills of a horror is happening as well. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the ending and the fate of certain characters, but for the rest of the story I truly did enjoy it as a horror novel. For me, it never felt like a cheap or meaningless thrill, but rather a scary story that packs an existential punch.
Some content notes to be aware of: violence, murder, blood, gore, insect swarms, possession.
A huge thank you to Tor Nightfire and Netgalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review!
I want to thank #Netgalley for letting me read the eArc of #Pinata
This is an interesting book. A trip to Mexico to work on a project to preserve a cathedral while being turned into a high clear bottle brings Carmen back home to Mexico worth her two daughters. She feels out of place even here in the place of her birth. While woodworking on the Cathedral an accident with scaffolding knocks open a closed off room. Izel and Luna happen to be visiting and inside Luna finds an old Pinata from which something dark resides. Luna goes from being a highly intelligent inquisitive child so being very withdrawn and moody.
Black moths are being seen in swarms, and witthin them it seems as though a message is trying to be delivered.
Strange occurances start to happen at Carmens home. Accidents that Luna always seems to be near for and then some boys that pick on Luna find themselves both dead not long after getting into a fight with Luna and her expressing to her sister Izel that she hopes they will die. A teacher at Luna's school is teaching about things that have to do witth Luna's past Mexican history when Luna uncharacteristically gets verbally aggressive with the teacher. The teacher tries to speak with Luna but seems to get drawn into something horrfying in Luna's eyes and accidently leaves briuses on Luna's wrist.
As time goes on Lunna changes more and more becoming mean and visious and more dangerous things keep occuring. As all of this happens the pinata that Luna snuck home with her from Mexico seems to be growing and pulsing with life. Something inside the pinata wants out and is going to use Luna to achieve that goal
I really loved this book, it has been so wonderful reading so many differnt books written by POC with a POC as the main character as well.. I encourage you to pick up this book and give it a read!
I’m a sucker for a good demonic possession story, but this book takes the trope to a whole new level. What stands out the most to me as a first-time reader of Gout’s work is how much I appreciated the time and research that went into incorporating all of the historic elements that made this story unique. Having Mexican history, culture, and heritage at the forefront of this horror novel just made the experience even spookier - because most of it is truly based on reality.
With most possession stories, we tend to run with whatever spirit/demon is the villain of the story and assume their motives make sense. And a lot of the time, the crux of that motive is pure evil. But in this story, you do end up understanding the spirits’ motives. Given the reality of what happened to these ancient cultures and peoples, you can’t help but understand their desire for vengeance and their wrath.
I absolutely loved the characters. The Sanchez family felt genuine and it was easy to feel invested in Luna’s fate. I also loved that the story took place both in Mexico and in the US. Though the climax of the book is truly where most of the heart-pounding frights play out, the time the author gives us to get to know the characters towards the first half of the book really adds to the dread and suspense that builds and builds.’
If you love creepy possession stories, this is a book for you. You’ll get that and so much more.
I had enjoyed the books A Head Full of Ghosts and Mexican Gothic so I was excited to read this book because of this. It was what I was hoping for from the description. I had enjoyed Leopoldo Gout's previous work Ghost Radio so I kinda knew what to expect. This was really well done and worked with the concept and world. I enjoyed how well the characters were and felt it had improved from Ghost Radio. I can't wait to read more from the author as I really enjoyed reading this book.
"Pins and needles of adrenaline prickled Carmen’s skin as her eyes darted around to figure out what everyone was clamoring away from. She heard it before she saw it, the sound of metal against metal clanged through the vaulted abbey announcing the first rod of scaffolding falling loose."
YOU CANNOT MISS THIS BOOK! Leopoldo Gout really brought it with Pin͂ata. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2023 and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of it prior to its release to the public. It is artfully written with incredible world and character building. Gout seamlessly weaves together generational traumas and insidiousness as the story of Carmen, Izel, and Luna unfolds. The further you venture into this book, the more intense the horrors and history of the Nahua becomes. Pin͂ata unpacks the horrors of gentrification in physical locations as well as institutional systems such as schooling, religion, and corporations. It is a unique and necessary horror novel that contends to the real life horrors that people face at the hands of racism, oppression, repression, commodification, and gentrification while framing it through the Nahua's own ancient practices, beliefs, and spiritual practices. Gout provides their reader an informative, deeply meaningful work that I truly believe to be one of the best novels of the 2020s. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy.
I requested a digital copy in order to sample the prose on my phone (since I don't have a eReader) before requesting a physical copy for review. My review will be based on the physical ARC I read (if I qualify)
Super unsettling (positive) and creepy (also positive.) A strong read and I'm excited to see more work from the author!
This novel is completely engaging, beautifully narrated, and absolutely terrifying.
This is a story of possession but not in the traditional way that you might think of. It concerns dark and bloody ceremonies of the past in the Mexican/Aztec history and the need for revenge against those who colonized these people long ago.
A young girl, full of curiosity and light, is the conduit for these evil forces and they wish to use her as a portal to enter this world and take back what is theirs.
Luna is with her mother and older sister in Mexico, the children's first time there exploring their heritage while the mother begins her work there, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances she takes a relic home with her. However, this relic has other things attached to it and what follows them is an evil hell bent on revenge and suffering.
I absolutely raced through this book, unable to stop reading as their situation gets more violent and nefarious. You can readily tell that the author is a poet as his prose is full of wonderfully written accounts of these events yet never veering into word salad territory. And it's just plain frightening!
If you're reading this, I hope you take advantage of reading this novel and I think it will be talked about quite a lot when it releases. I highly recommend this.