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DNF Explanation: Esperanza by Trish J. MacGregor

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Publisher: Tor

Where did you get this book: Review copy from publisher

Release date: Available now

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This review contains spoilers!

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Blurb taken from Tor website:

Tess Livingston met Ian Ritter at a roadside stop high in the Andes, waiting for a bus to the mysterious town of Esperanza.

Tess is an FBI agent who remembers being on the track of a group of international counterfeiters. But she doesn’t remember booking a trip to Esperanza. Ian is a journalist who was planning to vacation to the Galapagos Islands. He, too, isn’t quite sure why he has a ticket to Esperanza.

Their meeting will change their lives forever. For they have been brought together because they hold the key in a mystical war between the kind spirits of the dead who guard humanity, and the hungry ghosts who exist only to possess living human bodies, and return however briefly to life.

In the midst of this war, Tess and Ian will find a love that can transcend time, and a cause that not even death will overcome.

When Tor offered to send this book, I jumped at it. Supernatural thriller? With sex? I’m in!

The premise was really fresh and interesting, and I wanted to like Esperanza so badly—but I just didn’t. There’s a sex scene in the prologue, but it felt glossed over and…not sexy. For me, when you’re talking about body-snatching ghosts (brujos) who do it to feed their sexual hunger and the sex is so intense it tends to leave the people dead, I expect it to be crazy hot. For me, the scene was just meh. Sure people ended up dead, but I never felt any of the wild passion that led to it.

I kept reading anyway because the premise still had my attention. Once the main characters were introduced at the bodega, I figured things would really get moving. Another dead body, a lot of fog and people not knowing what’s going on, but the protagonists seem okay.

The only problem is they never really moved up from okay for me. I bought into their attraction to each other well enough (I mean—he looks like George Clooney. Hello!), but I never connected with either of them. The one I liked the best was Nomad, the brujo sensing dog. And then I find out, not only are the main characters almost dead themselves (they are “transitionals” people who are on the verge of death) and not physically even in Esperanza, but the dog isn’t a dog—he’s a shapeshifter.

Even with all of that, I tried to keep reading. I made it about a third of the way through the novel before I realized I was forcing myself to read it. The author utilizes a lot of description that seemed unnecessary to me. And there’s also a lot of explaining that comes across as telling. For me, if the explanation doesn’t come about in a really organic way, it doesn’t work. Too much of Esperanza felt forced to me.

This is, of course, just my opinion, and based on a quick scan while looking for the blurb, a lot of people out there loved Esperanza. For this reviewer though, it wasn’t thrilling enough to warrant being called a thriller, and for that reason and those listed above, it was a DNF.

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