Review – Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Untamed Shore cropped for featured image
Untamed Shore

Book Description: Renowned author Silvia Moreno-Garcia's first thriller, UNTAMED SHORE, is a coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists. Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children. Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future. When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting voices in fiction, and with her first crime novel, UNTAMED SHORE, she crafts a blazing novel of suspense with an eerie seaside setting and a literary edge that proves her a master of the genre.

Book Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book Edition: First

Book Format: EBook

Publisher - Orgnization: Agora Books

Publisher Logo:

Date published: 2020-02-11

ISBN: 9781947993921

Number Of Pages: 304

  • Writing - 9/10
  • Characterization - 9/10
  • Overall - 9/10
User Review
0/10 (0 votes)


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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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan needs books to function, and therefore can infodump quite a lot about them, particularly when they're either science fiction or fantasy.

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