Having lived in a city my whole life, I don’t think I’ll ever experience the close-knit feeling that comes with living in a rural home. The provincial setting of Eliza Victoria’s Wounded Little Gods makes me a little bit jealous, where all the noise, solidness, and traffic, barely exist and all there is the quiet in the probinsya. At least, that’s what I get from her prose, because it was vivid enough that I could see the town of Heridos in my head and that is exactly the thing that should tell you she’s an excellent story teller.
In her novel, we follow Regina as she unravels the mystery behind the disappearance of her co-worker Diana. Everything starts out normally: the Manila traffic is horrendous (when is it not, anyway?), and she is invited to Diana’s unit to wait the bustle of cars out. She learns that Diana’s coffee table books are all about genetics, or specifically, eugenics. The day after, Diana is gone and she is left with a map leading back to her hometown of Heridos.
Regina is smart, and follows a trail of breadcrumbs that lead her to people that seemingly know nothing about what she’s asking about. Then she’s in a house that shouldn’t really exist. And then there’s experimentation on children! Que horror!
I’ll leave the reader to read the rest of what’ll happen, but trust me when I say it’s not what we’ve come to expect of these stories.
But I can tell you what you can expect of this novel: there is nothing more beautiful than seeing Eliza Victoria drawing the curtains layer by layer into her story she’s woven together so well. There is a purpose behind the introduction of every character. For every hint of supernatural she seeds, there is an even bigger story behind this. With shades of darkness come horror, yet in the sense that you would think. Victoria brings the Filipino belief in gods and deities into the modern setting, but it’s done in how Greek tragedy unfolds. When all is said and done, there will be consequences and there will be loss. And it will hurt.
And that, honestly, is how a good novel should read like. I don’t think fully absorbed this novel in the first reading I’ve done, because I feel the whole thing has so much depth that I was able to take in at the moment. Go on ahead and read the book though, please, because amongst all her works this is the one I will not stop recommending to every person who asks for a page turner.