...[an] impressive new novel ...Hurricane Season belongs to the Gothic-grotesque tradition of the transnational American South. The novel’s tortured self-deceptions and sprung-trap revelations evoke the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, the neuroses of Marlon James’s Kingston gunmen in A Brief History of Seven Killings In an interview about that novel, James spoke about the need to 'risk pornography' in the portrayal of violence — and Melchor certainly does. At times, she enters so deeply into the psyche of sexual violence that she skirts the voyeurism risked by any representation of cruelty ... The crime is not an act but an entire atmosphere, which Melchor captures in language as though distilling venom. Sometimes, though, this claustrophobic style breaks like a fever, yielding to flights of mesmerically expansive prose ... Offering such glints of transcendence at the edge of an ugly killing, Melchor creates a narrative that not only decries an atrocity but embodies the beauty and vitality it perverts.
There are no paragraphs, only chapter breaks. Paragraphing is managed instead by the full stops between extended sentences – breathless, bad-mouthed, resentful sentences, sentences that are fetid, rhythmic and readable, full of insult and gossip, anecdotes and digressions. The genius of Hurricane Season lies in the way its author encourages the reader to work with this babble to build not just the narrative of the murder, but also a picture of a poverty-stricken community further devastated by the coming of oil capital and the drugs industry ... Melchor’s deep drill into violence, femicide, homophobia and misogyny, translated with considerable verve and force by Sophie Hughes, is based on the real-life killing of a 'witch' outside Veracruz. It’s a mystery novel, but not one presented in any manner to which we’re accustomed; a horror novel, but only metaphorically; and a political novel with deep penetration of a remarkably foul milieu ... You close the book every so often, feeling that you have learned too much. Though there are glitters of humour and empathy, Hurricane Season is an uncompromisingly savage piece of work: difficult to escape from, built to shock. Yet it’s also elating. I was left buoyed up by Melchor’s anger, elated because she had shown me things I needed to be faced with.
... a bilious, profane, blood-spattered tempest of rage against what one character calls 'the full, brutal force of male vice' ... The chapters, written in obscenity-laden free indirect speech, are not monologues so much as diatribes. Sophie Hughes’s translation carries their furious momentum into English. They have no paragraph breaks, as if a moment’s pause would represent an unforgivable show of weakness ... This is the Mexico of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, where the extremes of evil create a pummeling, hyper-realistic effect. But the 'elemental cry' of Ms. Melchor’s writing voice, a composite of anger and anguish, is entirely her own.