While I sit staring at the blinking cursor, trying to put my impressions about “Calixta” by Omayra Vélez into words, forgive me for blurting out: “wow, what a book!”
These are my feelings in a nutshell. But it absolutely won’t do to leave “Calixta” without a proper review. The intense, imaginative, gut-searing, and thought-provoking story of unlocking your true self while fighting against the darkest of evils deserves more.
Calixta is an extraordinary book character. She isn’t what you’d call likeable. Yes, she is strong and beautiful. She is also brave and loyal to the people she loves. Still, she is edgy and harsh, for she’s been disillusioned by the life she’s been forced to live.
The society Calixta belongs to doesn’t give its people any choice. Once labelled, a person must live restricted by the requirements of their trade and harsh laws. Calixta’s trade is not what any person would choose willingly. She is a woman of the night. True, of the highest class. She is talented and educated. But it doesn’t matter to the people of Alhambra.
Calixta has a character of a fighter, so she doesn’t succumb to the fate of someone who can’t do anything to make their life better. She uses the opportunities she’s been given – as scarce and controversial as they are – and rises as high as it’s possible in her situation.
And then, we find out that she isn’t simply a strong-willed Madame of the best brothel in town.
Calixta dies, and her life takes a turn no human laws and restrictions can influence.
The book is not an easy read. There aren’t noble knights in shining armour, throwing red roses to the innocent beautiful ladies. The man who helps Calixta unlock her true identity is – pardon my language – a jerk. He behaves like one and treats the woman, who left him speechless the very moment he saw her for the first time, also like an utter bastard.
There are gruesome scenes in the book. The kind that will make you cringe and want to skip a few pages. I admit – I’ve read every word. In my opinion, they added weight to the importance of the Vanquishers’ mission to restore the balance between good and evil.
Calixta’s thorny road from a scorned but ardently desired Madame to a powerful Vanquisher with unprecedented abilities of a mage is a fascinating read that won’t let you go for a long time after you turn the last page. Ms Vélez masterfully weaves together magical and philosophical elements making the reader experience a whole range of emotions.
“Calixta” is a part of The Vanquishers of Alhambra dark fantasy series. It ends on a cliffhanger, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest, for I know for sure that I’ll be reading Ms Vélez’s next books.
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