It’s been quite a while since I’ve been caught off guard by a book. Usually I know from the jacket or the first few pages what I’m getting into, but not this time. I couldn’t put it down until I figured out what happened next and even then I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how it ended…
To say the least, Esperanza by Trish J. MacGregor blindsided me. It’s like the recipe for a great meal. The plot intertwines a bit of romance with some horror, adds little history and some fantasy for good measure, and leaves you wanting more at the end. If I was to compare it to other stories, I found a bit of Quantum Leap in it, a little bit of Somewhere In Time, and a bit of the The Time Traveler’s Wife.
The story resolves around two tourists – FBI agent Tess Livingston and professor Ian Ritter – traveling through South America and find themselves visiting a strange town high in the Andes called Esperanza. On the journey to the town, they encounter their fair share of strange events and danger, but somewhere along the way they find themselves in love. We’re talking a “soul mate” kind of love connection here.
Once they got past the Rio Palo, they began learning more about the weirdness surrounding them. The town’s inhabitants never seem to age. And if that wasn’t strange enough, the hungry spirits of the dead called “brujos” hide in the fog and seek new bodies to experience life and love again in the physical world. Unfortunately, that sometimes causes death in the people they choose to possess.
If that was all there was to the story, I probably wouldn’t have made it too far through the book before I set it down. That wasn’t the case. There were hints at deeper mysteries dropped throughout the story and once I figured out MacGregor was playing with not only the boundaries between life and death, but time as well, I was hooked.
But throughout it all, the book never seems forced. It never strays too far from the main characters – Tess and Ian – but the writing weaves all of these various threads together with enough breathing room that even though I figured out where it was going, I really enjoyed the ride. And I still can’t figure out how she managed to smoothly transition from place to place, decade to decade, without being jarred out of the moment like a 4×4 bouncing along a Jeep trail.
If you’ve been looking for a great book that blurs the genre boundaries but still tells a compelling story, I’d strongly encourage you to check out Esperanza by Trish J. MacGregor. It’s worth the ride. Also, be sure to check out her website at TrishJMacGregor.com for more about this book and her other works.
This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.
p.s. Pick up Esperanza and some of these other items below at Barnes & Noble!