For all the book's noir trappings, Herrera is no pulp fictioneer. He writes short, poetic, elliptical books that conjure Mexico in all its brutality, heroism, and unexpected tenderness. He pulls you into mythic spaces that recall everyone from Dante and Dashiell Hammett to Juan Rulfo, who wrote the landmark Mexican novel, Pedro Páramo. If Among Strange Victims gives us a country whose characters are trapped in their own heads, The Transmigration of Bodies goes straight for the soul. Unsettling and deep, Herrera transmigrates us to a Mexico that feels like a metaphysical condition, a timeless kingdom in which the living are forever dancing with the dead.
At times, the deliberately cartoonish lines of Herrera's narrative seem to strangle its ambition. The Redeemer and his cohorts are less characters than archetypes...And despite the tension produced by the intersection of Herrera's baroque style and his evasive approach to narrative, the book never quite achieves the fusional dazzle of its predecessor. Yet there's plenty to admire about this allegorical vision of a country under lockdown, where everyone has 'readily...accepted enclosure," and where violence and death have ceased to be motors for fiction, instead becoming the backdrop of everyday life.
Like a True Detective that doesn’t suck, Transmigration is a hard-boiled fiction that wades in literary and philosophical allusion...Dark, entertaining, the world of The Transmigration of Bodies is nonetheless one without dignity, a domain where there is nothing for the Redeemer to redeem. Here a body becomes a unit of exchange, a thing that changes hands yet never transmigrates. Somehow, Herrera’s fiction has crossed over and avoided this fate. Maybe this is because his lesson is portable, like a soul without a body, and undeniable, like a corpse in an empty room.
In terms of genre (and the book is very conscious of its genre antecedents), The Transmigration of Bodies is nine parts noir to one part post-apocalypse fantasy ... Swift, slick images and one-liners glitter at regular intervals ... You don’t experience The Redeemer (or anyone else for that matter) as a 'character' – there’s too little texture for that – but the flourishes that bring him onto the page are expert enough for you to go along with him as the carrier of a darkly satisfying little tale.
Herrera’s gift for evoking the grit and gleam of the city’s various locales — from nouveau riche estates to gigolo clubs — creates a smoky, sexy, ominous backdrop for our hero’s myriad encounters ... Herrera’s prose, deftly translated by Lisa Dillman, is lean and hard-boiled — and often caustically poetic — though underpinned by a sort of wry self-awareness. If Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are present here, so too are Roberto Bolaño and Quentin Tarantino ... This skillfully skewed mimicry turns out to be a blessing and a curse.
...written in the vein of Frank Miller’s tale of crime and underworld, Sin City, and tinged with classic, yet ironic, Shakespearian tragedy ... Above all, Transmigrations is a character examination of the Redeemer, a story of how a man gets caught between two worlds ... [an] exceptional novel.