cover image Piñata


Leopoldo Gout. Nightfire, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-78117-8

A family unit slowly comes apart under the influence of an ancient power in this inventive if not entirely immersive horror novel from Gout (the Genius series). Mexican American architect and single mother Carmen Sánchez hopes a business trip to Mexico to oversee the transformation of an old cathedral into a posh hotel will be an opportunity for her daughters, Izel and Luna, to learn about their roots. Then an accident at the construction site reveals a hidden cache of pre-Hispanic artifacts behind one of the church walls and costs Carmen her position. Before the family flies back to New York, Luna sneaks onto the work site and steals a piñata, a clay pot used to hold offerings, from the cache of artifacts—with devastating consequences. Once home, Carmen begins to have unsettling dreams and visions of hideous corpses and the deaths of those around her pile up. Now Carmen must set aside her skepticism about the supernatural to save her family—and the world—from disaster. Gout puts a unique twist on a classic possession story by incorporating Indigenous Mexican lore into the gory plot, but the overly expository prose, which descends into tedious info-dumping between frights, and often stilted dialogue keep this from fulfilling its potential. It’s flawed, slow-burning horror. (Mar.)