Review: Mestiza Blood by V. Castro

cover of Mestiza Blood by V. CastroMestiza Blood by V. Castro
Flame Tree Press (January 25, 2022)
240 pages; $26.95 hardcover; $16.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

After a string of successful releases, Hairspray & Switchblades (Unnerving Press) Goddess of Filth (Creature Publishing) and Queen of the Cicadas (Flame Tree Press) V. Castro unleashes her first short story collection, Mestiza Blood.

A short story collection of nightmares, dreams, desires, & visions of the chicana experience

Castro gives a loud, powerful voice to her heritage and women through stories that reflect the horrors she experienced or witnessed growing up as a Mexican American. There are strong themes of patriarchal oppression, vengeance, justice, revenge, racism, classism, and stereotypes infused into urban legends and folklore.

Some of the stories are stripped down and raw — just a peek into the life of a Chicana, like “Nightmares & ICE” or “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Other tales have a folklore or urban legend style and leave the reader with a repertoire of new stories to tell around the campfire like, “Donkey Lady Bridge,” “Dancehall Devil,” or “The Latin Queens of Mictlan.”

Readers can expect to show up for Castro’s storytelling and receive classic horror tropes seasoned with a special blend of sass, sensuality, and unapologetic female prowess. A tale of demonic possession is twisted into goddess empowerment. Shapeshifters become primal warriors. Zombies put on makeup before they exact their vigilante justice. Sex workers and exotic dancers are the main protagonists, not the faceless bodies writhing in the background. 

It’s difficult for every single story in a collection to stand up on its own merit and be counted as equal. There are clearly some that shine brighter than others, but as a whole Mestiza Blood represents Castro’s spirit and spunk. It’s wonderful to see her star rise higher and higher in this industry.

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