Review – Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Untamed Shore

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  • Writing - 9/10
  • Characterization - 9/10
  • Overall - 9/10
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In the humid heat of 1970s Baja California, Viridiana crosses paths with three American strangers who will change the conventional path that her life has been on.

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Untamed Shore is a historical Baja California noir written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and published by Agora Books. Although Silvia Moreno-Garcia has previously only published speculative fiction books (her latest is the popular Gods of Jade and Shadow from last July), Untamed Shore proves that she has mastered storytelling to the point where she can play in any genre she wants. 

Introducing Untamed Shore’s Heroine

Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Untamed Shore
Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Untamed Shore

One thread that Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books often feature is ambitious young women in less than ideal situations. Untamed Shore‘s heroine is Viridiana. Viridiana is a bright young woman who knows that the only way that she can live a dramatic and unexpected life is to get out of her conservative hometown. However, despite a facility with languages, she knows that there are no easy paths out, especially not for a young woman

Untamed Shore begins as three American strangers arrive in Desengaño, Viridiana’s provincial Baja California hometown. Due to Viridiana’s ease with languages, she quickly gets hired as a secretary for one of these American strangers. As she spends time with the American trio, she begins to bond with the other two. Suddenly, one of the visitors dies and Viridiana must decide how to handle the situation. Does she want to help the Americans who are still alive, or find justice for the one who has now died?

Notes on Untamed Shore’s Genre

If you’re looking for a whodunnit, you should look elsewhere. While the circumstances behind the death are not entirely clear at first, and even though they get clearer with time; that’s not the endgame of the narrative. Instead, the narrative centers on Viridiana, and does not let her out of its steady gaze. 

Considering Moreno-Garcia’s previous body of work (which you should also go read), I think it’s necessary to emphasize that there are no speculative elements in Untamed Shore. Viridiana has no magic to draw upon (not like magic can solve all a person’s problems). There is no chance that she’ll get passage to another world (to her, Mexico City is already another world).

Instead, the plot pivots on each little choice that Viridiana makes. She doesn’t always make the choices that you or I would make. I had to keep putting the book down because I was concerned for her welfare. The humid heat in Baja California seems to leak out from each sentence, making the reader tense and sweaty. Not a lot happens in Untamed Shore. No wives fake their own deaths and frame their husbands with a convoluted plan. However, Viridiana’s problems seem extremely present.

Conclusion: Untamed Shore Brings Humid Heat

Even though this thriller isn’t a highway full of twists, it is not a smooth road. You will feel for Viridiana, and root for her to make the best decisions she can in a terrible situation. Untamed Shore is like a humid day at the beach: you think that all you’re going to do is relax, but the atmosphere has other plans. I highly recommend this.

I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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