(...)It is neither elegaic, nor lyrical, nor in any sense compelling. I've been reviewing books professionally for 20 years and this is one of the worst I've ever had to plow through. Only 130 pages long, it still manages to be incredibly tedious. Most absurd are comparisons first to Jose Saramago, and, more absurd, to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I don't have a word strong enough--ludicrous comes up way short--to apply to the assertion that Llamazares is "more lyrical" than Marquez. We all know talk is cheap, so here is an example of the overwrought and image-less writing: "Almost instantaneously, I was filled by an inexplicable inner chill. The house was frozen, heavy with menace, thick with silence and dank cold." [Could an outer chill fill anyone?] This is not elegaic, it's cheap gothic--without the fun of suspense or any genuine sense of menace. One line later, "The darkness was absolute, filling my eyes like a curse." Not only is this badly done, but also, Llamazres already used this metaphor five pages earlier: "I still had the rope with me, tied around my waist, like a rough belt or like a curse." And he will use it AGAIN later in the novel. Saramago? Marquez? This book is so badly written it is a wonder it was published at all. Llamazares uses the words silence, solitude, shadow, forever, dream, night, soul and memories--among others--so often, you begin to cringe in anticipation. Madness, for example "laid its yellow larvae in my soul" (p. 40). A rope (the one like a curse) "made an inferno of my soul" (p. 38). On p. 25, the curse-like rope made "an abyss of my soul." Need I go on? These are general and abstract words symptomatic of the writing: it lacks texture, feel, detail, LIFE.
Beyond the bad writing, however, there is NO story nor any characters! The narrator spends 130 pages whining about how he's about to die and the village is going to die with him, but we don't know anything else about him. We never see him or his family members (who are mere ciphers, names without anecdtoes or even physical descriptions attached to them) or the town in happier times so we really can't care much what happens to them. NO ONE in the whole book gets a single description. I don't think we even know what the dog looks like. We do see something of the town, but we know nothing, after 130 pages of its history or character. The Macondo of Marquez is more vividly drawn in a single paragraph of '100 Years of Solitude'.
Worst of all is the narrator's voice. Far from lyrical or elegaic, it is self-pitying, complaining and incredibly repetitive. If Llamazares only made his observations once (and they are hardly original or thought provoking), the book would be about 50 pages long. By the time you turn the last page, you are thankful, more than anything else, his ordeal--and yours--is over.
I found nothing redeeming between these covers and would not have gone past page 5 had I not been commissioned assignment.
You've been warned.