Book Review: ‘Maria the Wanted’
In Juárez, Mexico, a young woman named Maria struggles to make ends meet working in a warehouse. Through the aches, tears, and sweat, she pushes onward, dreaming of a new life in the States with her husband and their unborn child. But her dreams are stolen from her by a vampire named Adam. Giving Maria no reason for his actions, Adam turns Maria into a vampire and abandoning her—destroying her old life, killing her unborn child, and sending her on a journey around the world into a battle of good vs. evil.
First in The Keeper series, Maria the Wanted and the Legacy of The Keepers is a horror novel by V. Castro that organically encompasses other genres, including adventure, romance, and erotica (which is quite different from romance) and incorporates diverse characters from marginalized backgrounds and communities. Castro’s use of historic events and figures build on her layered dark fantasy world where vampires and the devil are real, but humans cause as much damage to each other without the help of otherworldly beings.
With vampires, demons, drug dealers, and human traffickers, Maria the Wanted is a horror novel with both earthly and supernatural adversaries. But this book is also an adventure story. Maria searches the world for her maker, Adam, and stumbles across vampire crime lords before becoming entangled with a covert vampire group known as The Keepers. She makes friends, saves communities, is hailed as a saint, and is tempted to become the mother of evil. Her temptation lies with Lucifer, the fallen angel, who is as drawn to Maria as she is to him. Their interactions are devilishly delicious, giving this novel an erotic flavor. But romance, pure and bright, with hints of passions to come, also bloom between characters.
This wonderfully eclectic novel showcases a variety of diverse characters, most notably, Maria. A Mexican woman turned vampire, Maria not only transforms from human to living dead but from a person trapped in society’s unrelenting views to a being free from judgments and restrictions placed on her by traditional ideas of gender and race—and this story is all about breaking tradition.
Before reading Maria the Wanted, I was unaware of my fervent desire to have a Mexican woman portrayed as raw and unapologetic as Maria is. Castro does an amazing job creating a character I swear I could have known, with experiences that I am either directly or indirectly familiar with. I laughed with Maria; I cried with her. I rejoiced in her accomplishments and understood her decisions. Maria is not faultless, but she owns herself—something I have been waiting to see in a female character and am ecstatic to see in a Latinx character.
For fans of vampire stories looking for a fresh and exciting twist, Maria the Wanted contains modern and original characters and an interesting addition to the vampire lore. Castro picks up the euro-centric vampire legend and spreads it around the globe, intermingling vampires into the history of pre-colonized Mexico. In this novel, vampires belong to every ethnicity and race. One part horror, one part adventure, one part romance, and one part smoking-hot erotica, Maria the Wanted is a contemporary tale of vampires, love, and the undying fight of good vs. evil.
Author: V. Castro
Cover courtesy of V. Castro Art by Isabelle Arne