Aura is a short story that is written beautifully, capturing the magic and horror of an old widow living with her niece and the secret that binds the two.
The plot is fairly basic, as there isn't really much time to get deep into any of the characters. There are only four, although that is debatable as one is only known through diary recollections. The prime focus of the story is Senora Consuelo, the ageing widow, as the young historian, Felipe Montero, hired to re-assemble her dead husband's memoirs learns more and more about their dark past. Felipe becomes obsessed with the ethereally beautiful niece, Aura, his dreams are filled with feverish images of her and him, together, declaring their love.
The novella is written in an interesting style, using 2nd person perspective (You did this, then you did that), and it works well. It means that we never really get an insight into Felipe's thoughts, but at the same time we only experience things through his eyes. The writing itself alternates between dark imagery involving religion, flowers, cats, and the house the story takes place within and obsessive beauty and fragility, as when Aura is described or mysterious things are occurring. Particularly haunting are the descriptions of the gloomy house filled with the refuse of fifty years of isolation.
The ending of the story wasn't expected, or at least, while I had an idea of what was going to occur, Fuentes took my expectations and extended them to a direction I hadn't predicted and was horrified with - but in the good way. This is a very dark story, and while there are flashes of beauty, these are generally shadowed by the somber tone and melancholy whisperings present throughout the novella. Highly recommended.