Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits, 1846
It’s so marvelous when an ambitious and daring piece of historic fiction, the kind that so many attempt to write and so few succeed, is told so masterfully well. Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits, 1846 by Laurel Anne Hill has all the qualities that one would expect a piece of literature worth its salt to have. It also takes risks that would reduce meeker authors to puddles on the floor. Moments of dream-like reflection and slow-burning world-building are the kind of things that shouldn’t normally seem so effortless.
In 1846 in Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega, and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States have declared war against Mexico, her country. Members of her family are imprisoned and some around her are killed. This is a dark and frustrating time in North American history. California takes up an absurd section of the western territories, and it is a powder keg of racial tensions and human resentments.
It is the perfect backdrop for our protagonist, Catalina, who must summon up her courage and challenge the cold and cruel world around her. Just a teenager, she struggles to save those around her and protect the future she longingly desires. As if that weren’t enough for her to be going on with, she is also being followed by the dark specter of an ominous and shadowy spirit that rides a powerful stallion.
The author manages to use the contrasting tones of the story’s natural settings and narrative exceptionally well. The attractive and courageous main character, Catalina, is a sublime creation, fully formed and compelling. She has a bullheaded refusal to be marginalized and fearlessly confronts conventions throughout the entire book.
This is a bold and unique piece of historical fiction. Each page flows almost effortlessly, taking the reader gently along this passionate journey of personal exploration and spirited rebellion. It is, at times, striking the way this author manages to make one feel for these figures, to get sucked into the high drama and challenging times in which they live. Elements of Mexican culture and Catholic faith are sprinkled into the main character and add richness to the text.
The book offers a very interesting and uplifting literary journey that has a spirit to match its subject matter. It is a story told with healthy doses of heart, quirk, and personality, and it would make the perfect Christmas gift for any young girl looking for inspiration along her own journey of discovery.
|Sand Hill Review Press
|Buy this Book