The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
Published by World Editions, 2020
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Written in spare yet sharp prose that captures the balmy heat of Colombia’s Pacific coast, The Bitch is a deceptively simple look at suppressed trauma, the pressures of motherhood, and man’s misguided efforts to tame nature.
Childless and approaching 40, Damaris takes in an orphaned puppy and is instantly besotted with her. Though at first she must attempt to keep the dog safe from external sources (the creatures of the jungle, her aggressive husband, the dog’s own natural instincts, and a society not adverse to drowning or poisoning animals it deems a nuisance), it soon becomes clear that there is a potential for cruelty lurking within Damaris herself, born from a failure to properly address pain from her past.
There’s an undercurrent of violence that simmers beneath the narrative to good effect, and metaphorical commentary on both the pressure women face to take on the role of motherhood, and what a thankless task it often is when they do. The narrative reaches an inevitable conclusion, and though it is certainly tragic, I think a lot of the solid thematic foundations aren’t capitalised on with the level of power and nuance they could have had.
Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
You can pre-order The Bitch by clicking here.
Cold Wind by Nicola Griffith
Published by Tor Books, 2014
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
A woman enters a bar on a cold, wintry night and begins to trail an enigmatic customer.
This dark, folkloric short from Tor Books evokes a crisp, unsettling atmosphere to great effect, reaching an otherworldly, visually striking climax befitting of the genre. The prose itself is largely suited to the fantastical subject matter, but does feel a tad overblown at times.
You can read Cold Wind online for free by clicking here.