Year of publication: 2022
Valuation: between recommendable and okay
First of all, I must say that I love the cover of this book; In fact, it should have been included in the entry of the best covers of 2022 and only an error can excuse me for not having done so. That said, could I have decided to read this novel just because of its cover? Well… to a large extent, yes, I confess, although not only; I was also intrigued by what the book’s synopsis reveals, which suggests a hybrid narrative between drama, fantasy genre and thriller. To achieve this, the novel incorporates diverse elements that, at first, are difficult to put together: an ETA attack, a forty-year-old in crisis, a child with a brain tumor, the fossil of an amphibian from the Paleozoic, a ghost story, a star communicator. from the media right, a presence that is more than supernatural, supraterrestrial… In short, a whole series of ingredients that seem more than difficult to combine, but that Ismael Martínez Biurrun manages to articulate in a completely coherent narrative; Perhaps, even, the framework that it composes is too closed, an artifact that works too well, without leaving any slack or gaps, more relaxed moments that allow the story to settle and, although it may sound contradictory, help to cement its verisimilitude (although anyone who read this novel, you will be able to reply to me that verisimilitude is not, precisely, what matters most in a story that mixes more or less realistic aspects, despite the many coincidences that, in fact, articulate the narrative, with other fantastic, supernatural or dreamlike ones. Yes, okay, but, still, it is the obligation of every narrator to look for the famous “suspension of disbelief”, even in the most fantastic or crazy stories that he can concoct. Or even more so in these, if possible).
I don’t want to give the wrong impression: this is by no means a failed or misguided novel – on the contrary, if anything can be argued, it is that it is a bit “forced”, in all the quotation marks in the world and in the sense that all the components of its weft are tied and well tied with double-turn sailor knots; What’s more, to the meritorious and sometimes complicated assembly of all the elements that I have mentioned – and some more – we must add an exhaustive work of composition of the characters and the achievement of some quite brilliant moments (for example, and sorry if I advance too much of the plot to someone, certain ghostly apparitions, which seemed little to me; I wish the novel had explored that territory more).
Furthermore, Martínez Biurrun’s prose is no longer irreproachable, but rather shows a constant tendency to rise above the merely functional; perhaps his style, however, gives the impression, like the structure of the novel, of being too controlled and it would be appreciated, at some point, if its author had “let himself go” to a greater extent… but, in Finally, these are somewhat diffuse and even weak objections: no one can be reproached for writing too well. In any case, this is a remarkable novel, which will not disappoint lovers of intense stories in which reality is combined with the fantastic or of unforeseen twists in them. In addition to those interested in well-crafted literature that explores unbeaten paths, of course.