This was one of the many finds I made at YALC last year – Tanya Landman had been on one of the panels I’d watched, so when I saw this book in the Waterstones section afterwards I decided to give it a go.
One thing that Landman does beautifully with this novel is the setting. You get a very clear sense of place from Landman’s descriptive passages, and it created a really beautiful setting. I loved the whole Aztec setting, as well as the intrigue surrounding their different beliefs and Gods. It was a really intriguing concept and was done so well! I really liked how Landman portrayed her characters, as this helped to reinforce the sense of place you got from the narrative.
One thing that did bug me about this novel was the overall tone and narrative voice came across as a little stilted. It did reinforce the ancient feel to the story world, but at times this did jar with my reading. It meant that at points I found it hard to really get into the story, but the setting kept me intrigued through out the whole novel. This was more of a personal criticism as the tone just felt overly formal, but I guess it worked for Itacate’s character.
I loved the overall plot, with the invasion of the Spanish and Itacate’s slow questioning of the world as she knew it. Plus towards the end of the novel there were so many heartbreaking events that hit you one after the other! I thought Landman wasn’t going to give Itacate a happy ending, but this was pulled together in the end. The ending did feel a bit like Landman wasn’t sure how to end the story, but it did work.
Overall it was a nice novel, and I really loved the setting – but it’s not one of my favourite novels I’ve ever read. I was a little put off by the narrative voice but I would be willing to give another of Landman’s novels a try. I would give it a 3/5.