Book Review: Cruce de Caminos, by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane – 4 stars   Leave a comment

Long time no talk. Sorry about that. I’m afraid I’ve been busy editing and working on promoting my upcoming romance novella. I did, however, finally make time to read Cruce de Caminos, by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane. This writing duo is fast becoming a favorite amongst new authors I read. Not only do they write well, they have a new and interesting take on any story they tell, and Cruce de Caminos is no exception.

For those who don’t speak Spanish, “cruce de caminos” translates as “crossroads,” and the central character, Sean O’Hara, is definitely at a crossroads in his life. He’s a teenager living on the streets who no longer knows how to handle life without being high. He’s just lost his girlfriend, all his worldly possessions, and what might have been his last shreds of dignity. He has a choice to make, between improving his life or continuing along a path that only ends when he hits rock bottom.

But crossroads aren’t just places of choice and opportunity. They’re also magical places, places where different faiths and folklores say you can meet beings not entirely of this world. Sean’s life is about to take a turn for the darkly fantastic.

The story’s setting is rich and compelling, and the characterization is gorgeous. Sean isn’t the cardboard cutout of a teenage junkie it would be so easy to fall back on, he’s a real person in desperate circumstances, with all the virtues and flaws that are part of that package. The inscrutable Ángel is a mystery man, and he generates all the otherworldly tension a reader could want. The battles Sean is fighting may be mostly with himself, but they’re realistic despite the fantasy elements of the story–the kind of conflict that keeps you turning pages.

I also love that the authors went to some lengths to draw on folklore that hasn’t been done to death as the basis of their fantasy elements. We see a lot of European-descended folklore in modern fantasy and paranormal stories. When we do see something else, it’s often poorly researched or trivialized. The Voudon elements in Cruce de Caminos are neither.

I only have one real complaint about the story: it felt like it needed to be either longer or shorter. The pacing is structured one way through most of the story and then changes just prior to the climax. Summarizing a couple of scenes about 2/3 of the way through would have improved the tension in the last third of the story. Alternately, a couple of incidents which are summarized could have been extended, taking Sean on a more meandering road to the climax and dénouement and injecting a few more minor conflicts along the way to keep us interested.

Overall, I highly recommend this read. At just under 16,000 words, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Let’s call it four stars.

You can get Cruce de Caminos direct from the publisher, or from major e-book sellers like Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

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Posted July 20, 2012 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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