Alexander Cold awakened at dawn, startled by a nightmare. He had been dreaming that an enormous black bird had crashed against the window with a clatter of shattered glass, flown into the house, and carried off his mother.
–Isabelle Allende - City of the Beasts - c.2002 - pg1
Trans from the Spanish: Margaret Sayers Peden
The main reason I picked this one up was that I’d heard quite a few good things about Allende’s version of Zorro and so I figured that I’d give her a go. This is a one of her YA books though, so maybe not a perfect choice to gain an impression of her adult writing.
The story revolves around 15 year old Alexander Cold, who is shipped off to live with his grandmother after his mother becomes ill with cancer. And his grandmother isn’t you usual white-haired little old lady. Instead she is an explorer, and drags Alex off to the Amazon jungle. She is in search of the humanoid, yeti-like Beast that has been reported in the area, either to show this new creature to the world, or announce that it doesn’t exist.
Alexander isn’t too thrilled with his trip into the jungle, he is very much a modern boy and likes his comforts, although he is a mountain-climber so is used to life outdoors. But he is a very picky eater, and the diet on offer in South America doesn’t find much favour with him.
Overall this is an okay read, nothing overly special, but nothing terrible either. Alex is fairly believable and the plot is entertaining enough. It isn’t overtly sci-fi, or fantasy, more magic-realism, but it is all pretty much the same thing to me.