I’ve got a bunch of different thrillers to share with you all this week and they’ve each got something unique to offer. This one is on the paranormal side and involves dark magic!
Primogénito: The Fuentes Legacy by Greta Cribbs
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
“I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and see him standing at the foot of the bed, staring at me. Some nights I don’t think he sleeps at all.”
Ashley Preston has a problem. Her husband Nick has fallen victim to a mysterious illness, alternating between bizarre physical symptoms for which doctors cannot determine a cause and alarming personality changes which have Ashley fearing not just for Nick’s health but for her own safety as well. Desperate to save her husband, she turns to the only person she believes can help her: Damian Fuentes.
Ashley knows Damian’s family has dabbled in some kind of dark magic over the years. She also knows that when Nick was ten years old, Damian’s grandfather performed a strange ritual on him. Convinced that this ritual is at the root of her husband’s problem, Ashley begs Damian to delve into the Fuentes family’s darkest secrets in search of a cure. But Damian has spent the past five years trying to distance himself from his family and his traumatic past. Helping Ashley will mean resurrecting the long-dead ghosts of his most disturbing memories. If he saves Nick he may very well lose himself.
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One commenter asked me in a previous post what the title of a book meant, and now I always (usually) remember to share that with you! In this case, primogénito means firstborn, something that is very important in the rituals of the Fuentes’ family. This one gets pretty dark, pretty fast so be prepared for an emotional roller coaster with this book. The emotional response that the author is able to bring out of her characters, as well as the reader, is what really drew me into this book and I think this is what the author does best.
Some warnings for readers going in: several of the characters suffer abuse and sexual assault. While they aren’t explicitly described, the emotional trauma these characters carry follows them throughout the book. It can be a heavy topic to delve into but I thought the author really expertly handled her discussions of PTSD and grief, and allowed the characters space to try to heal from their past harms. The pain of both these acts and the trauma they cause is not something the author shies away from, so it felt like a very real, honest depiction of what those living with PTSD go through each day.
I found it a little surprising how small the cast of characters is in this book. Whereas other books with magic often create a whole world to explore, here magic is kept within the family and our MCs are a small group of friends. I think having it so contained helped to focus on the characters but perhaps future books, if this continues in a series, could explore a wider world of magic to broaden the setting of this story.
Some more minor parts of the story were difficult to make out, like how much time is passing. Once Ashley shows up at Damien’s house, everything is set into motion and everyone goes about their tasks. I thought at first that it was happening over several days but it turned out several months had passed. There weren’t really overt hints for the reader to figure this out on their own, until one big reveal that makes it really obvious. This was really only a problem in the beginning of a book but it would’ve been helpful to have some idea of how long it was taking this group to figure out some answers to their troubles. I also found that the writing was a little stilted or overly formal at times, especially in the beginning of the book. While I liked the characters, their dialogue didn’t always feel all that natural so it was difficult to fully immerse myself in the scene.
My biggest issue comes back to emotions. While for the most part I found these were handled really well, there were a few times that a character’s anger or jealousy was unfairly discredited. I found their arguments to be totally reasonable but their concerns were often brushed off so they don’t get a space to act out. There’s also one character who struggles with his image of what being a “strong man” means. This includes providing for the household, being the shoulder to lean on, and not sharing his troubles. While I understood that he was trying to overcome his victim status and not let that define him, I wish these ideas could’ve been pushed further to avoid the typical stereotypes of what a man must be.
About the Author: Greta Cribbs has worn many hats over the years, from mom to schoolteacher to church choir director. She constantly seeks out opportunities to indulge her many interests, but writing is the passion that has been with her the longest. She wrote her first poem at the age of nine and has been creating stories ever since. She published her first book, Amelia’s Children, in 2015. Primogénito is her second published work. You can follow @GretaCribbs on Twitter for the latest information about her writing and other projects she is working on.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own