"Out of Aztlan" Book Review

Written by Zach Rosenberg

Published by Creature Publishing

out of aztlan v castro poster large

Written by V. Castro
2022, 200 pages, Fiction
Released on December 6th, 2022


It’s been thrilling to watch the ascension of V. Castro. Rising to prominence with works such as Goddess of Filth, The Queen of Cicadas, and Mestiza Blood, Castro upends traditional horror tropes with primal intensity. Proud of her Mestiza heritage, Castro makes it a centerpiece in her latest collection, Out of Aztlan, with passionate and fiery tales straight out of Aztlan, the mythical homeland of the Aztec people.

One of the recurring motifs of Castro’s writing is women who refuse to be cowed and break from the traditional horror molds. Women who embrace and honor their heritage and seek active vengeance against oppressors and colonizers. Mingling feminism with folklore, mythology, and deeply personal writing, Castro starts the collection strong with “Templo Mayor.” The narrator attends an archaeological dig that unearths an ancient temple, combining the supernatural with a yen for the discovery of culture and history that is all the more important for what the Spanish colonizers tried to destroy.

“Palm Beach Poison” is a story of motherhood and revenge. Protective mothers who are nevertheless very human is a very present theme in Castro’s work. While this is one of the least supernatural tales, it is also one of the most thrilling and satisfying. Rage burns at the core of Castro’s yarns, a fury at men who exploit and harm children. Vengeance is not just satisfying; it’s a mother’s sacred right and duty.

When the United States is reduced to “...a wasteland of disease, hunger, feral animals, and things that were once human,” in the thrilling “Asylum,” Castro delves into border relations when Mexico has constructed their own wall to keep Americans from their country. Playing on national pride with a united nation, Castro shows a deft hand at political commentary.

One of the strongest in the collection is undoubtedly “El Alacran.” Taking us into the past, Castro presents a story of lady pirates on their adventures encountering dark magic and perhaps a monster or two. Venom and magic collide as Castro again makes women the fulcrum of pure strength in this swashbuckling excellence.

Overall, simply one of the best voices on the market.


Overall: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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Zach Rosenberg
Staff Reviewer
Zach Rosenberg is a fantasy and horror writer living in Florida. He appreciates the ocean, wildlife and his love of literature was constantly nurtured growing up where he practically lived in the libraries, reading every horror and fantasy book he could get his hands on. His print debut short story "The Teeth Of the Deeps" is featured in the fifth short story collection from Dead Sea Press.
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