Arturo hasn’t seen his adoptive brother, Faustino, for over a year. Then one night, Faustino turns up with his girlfriend and new baby son – he owes the mob bosses $1000 and he wants Arturo to win it at cards for him. Arturo reluctantly agrees but the card game is a lot more than even he could imagine it to be.
This is a story set in the border towns of Mexico where the inhabitants can see “El Norte” but have no way of getting near. I can see that this is an important story to tell, but sadly so can this novel which does really feel like a moral tale of outrage rather than a novel to read for interest. This is fine if you know this before you start, but it is definitely worth being aware of.
I felt that this was a real departure for Marcus Sedgewick and not necessarily one I enjoyed. As usual the characters, particularly that of Arturo and Carlos and Siggy are really interesting and very well written. The emphasis here though is mostly on the setting and I found that very disturbing although, of course, that is the intention.
In the end though, I just didn’t enjoy this book because I don’t think I was supposed to. As I say, I can see this is an important story to tell, but I just found it immensely sad. Not one I would want to read again by choice but probably very good if you want to learn about the situation on the border in Mexico.