I was, quite honestly, thrilled to get this book for review. And I was not in the least bit disappointed at all. Missing in Machu Picchu is a novel that mixes in the mystery of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, along with four women who are at times friendly and at times very snarky with each other. Add in the requisite bad boy who in not what he seems, and two native women who also are not what they seem, and you have a novel that is, in part, almost a chick lit story, with a mystical twist set in one of the most gloriously mysterious places in the world. All in all it was a fun and twisted adventure that was very difficult to put down, and I have no doubt in my mind that readers everywhere will agree.
When I was approached by the publishers about reviewing this book, I was surprised to discover that I had overlooked it on Netgalley. But having looked at the cover I could see why: it didn’t look like a magic realism book and the plot summary didn’t make it seem like it was magic realism either. It looked like a chick-lit book, which is not my personal choice of reading matter. But having readMissing in Machu Picchu I can now say that a) it is magic realist fiction and b) it is not chick-lit, or at least not just chick-lit. It is in fact very hard to place this book neatly in any genre. I see that is listed under mystery/thriller in Netgalley, and the group of women travellers at the centre of the book are certainly in great danger from the psychopathic Rodrigo, but there is more to this book that that.
Positively. I’m fascinated by this eloquently told tale set in an area I know little about. My son and daughter-in-law have visited Machu Picchu, and his discussion of bartering with the street vendors stuck in my mind. I have to admit his travel memories weighed heavily in me deciding to read the first chapter of the book. The storyline, however, soon captured my full attention.
I love Cecilia Velastegui’s books! They are always an adventure. Velastegui is a master at weaving anthropological history and modern tales in such a way that the reader doesn’t realize she/he has been given a history lesson.
Out of Five Stars
Velástegui’s prose is dreamlike and evokes comparisons with the best writers of modern magical realism.
Missing in Machu Picchu is more than a thriller. Velástegui wants her readers to not only be enchanted by this tale of seduction, vengeance, retribution, and, for one character at least, atonement, but also to be educated about Latin American culture and mythology: the legends, the history, and the classic clash between earthly desires and the will of the gods. The simple lives of peasants and the complex schemes of city slickers reveal special meaning when drenched in the romance, violence, and pure zaniness of folk memory. Velástegui’s prose is dreamlike and evokes comparisons with the best writers of modern magical realism. Velástegui brings the genre up to date, with peasant grannies struggling to understand computers and identify with their clever but insensitive grandchildren, and college-educated women forced to do battle with ancient spirits and cosmic forces well beyond the reach of the worldwide web.
Missing in Machu Picchu is another beautifully written novel by Cecilia Velástegui. Combining historical fact with a modern fictional takes the reader on an incredible journey. The mysticism and beauty behind the mallqui adds to the drama.
Angeleno Magazine and Riviera Magazine:
“The twists and turns of the plot are as intriguing as the beautiful descriptions of the Incan trails the women follow while they make their way up to the legendary ancient city.”
“Fortified by vibrant characters and a tenacious plot; it packs a mean punch when readers least expect it.”