Short Take: “Hairspray and Switchblades,” V. Castro

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

V. Castro’s horror novella Hairspray and Switchblades (Rewind or Die) is a quirky, fun story. Maya first turned into a jaguar on her eighteenth birthday, and it’s happened on every full moon since then. A few years later, Maya’s parents were killed in a home invasion. Luckily she and her younger sister Magdalena weren’t home at the time. Now Maya is 26 and working as a stripper/exotic dancer in a club. She earns enough to continue sending Magdalena, who’s 16, to school, and hopes Magdalena will go to college. What Maya really wants is to run an auto shop, but that dream died with her father. Now San Antonio is stalked by “the San Antonio Stripper Ripper,” a killer who takes parts of their kills and leaves no evidence. Maya has sensed something evil from one of her club’s patrons, and is trying to help handsome detective Jackson Barnes figure out how to stop the bad guy.

The narrative is a little rough. The transitions are a little quick, and the sentences tend to be a bit choppy–they make the pacing a little one-note. The story though, is original and interesting. Maya is a tough woman, and she doesn’t need Jackson to save her. Jackson pretty much falls in insta-love with Maya; I would have liked to see a little more buildup there, but it’s one of those personal preference things.

Maya manages to find some other shifters to help her. It’s a little sudden; she basically just emails and then skypes someone and manages to find what she wants. It seems like people are not nearly suspicious enough of someone who wants them to admit to being non-human. She does learn important things from them, though, which is needed for the plot.

I look forward to seeing future books from this author!

Content note for sexual material.

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