[Ampuero's] sparse prose focuses on character, narrowing the distance between the body and its experience of violence. Combining structures reminiscent of fairy tales and horror films, genres that often fall back on portraying subservient women characters, Ampuero upends these conventions by decentering the male gaze and reversing tropes. Her work plays between Carmen María Machado’s queer theory and exploration of domestic violence in Her Body and Other Parties and Helen Oyeyemi’s speculative and fairy tale elements in What is Not Yours is Not Yours ... Ampuero treats each story like a different room in a house, opening one door after another. Each space slightly different than the other, we find ourselves trapped in a world we don’t want to recognize. The carnival of genre and theme, however, make us lean in and, in other moments, flinch. Physical and sexual violence drive the narratives, and there’s no attempt to pull punches from the topics Ampuero engages socially and politically. To the author’s point above, these difficult themes come from varying perspectives but are too often narrowed to the male writer. In Cockfight, Ampuero enters into critical dialogue with form and substance, paying homage while imploding the very structures that she winks to us.
These stories, none longer than 14 pages, are like tiny, bitter pills. They’re not pleasant, but who said literature needs to be? Instead, they are antidotes against forgetting the myriad forms that violence takes and its psychic costs on those who manage to survive. Ampuero writes with steely nerves and an ear for the beauty of simple, concrete language—not a word feels out of place ... Reading these stories won’t make you happy, but discovering this talented new writer will.
... grotesque, unflinching ... the sisters’ joyful dance comes as welcome relief from Ampuero’s nearly relentless violence and nightmarish imagery. While some of the stories are drowned by horrific details, others offer a glaring view of the impact of misogynistic violence and oppression. This will appeal to fans of unrepentant feminist fiction.