When Maya and Magdalena lose their parents to a home invasion, Magdalena puts her dreams on hold and turns to exotic dancing. Cash is what the sisters need to stay together and keep Maya in an elite Catholic high school that has set her on the path for an athletic and academic college scholarship.
These sisters come from a bloodline of Jaguar shifters from Mexico and have gained unwanted attention. The San Antonio Stripper Ripper is stalking the streets, out for a specific kind of blood. Though Magdalena trades in skin, there is no way she will allow anyone to own her. Steamy. Bloody. Dangerous. Hairspray and switchblades, what more could a girl need to survive the hot streets?
- Title: Hairspray and Switchblades
- Series: Rewind-or-Die, Book 5
- Author: V. Castro
- Cover Artist: credit pending
- Publisher: Unnerving
- ISBN: 1989206352
- Publication Date: February 8, 2020
Brimming with pulpy, sexy fun, Hairspray and Switchblades is a fresh and intriguing horror novella about a pair of werejaguar sisters in San Antonio, Texas. Tough and smart, Maya is a badass exotic dancer raising her sister Magdalena after their parents were murdered. She faces off against The Weaver, a terrifying (if slightly underdeveloped) villain whom I could easily see in the psycho killer pantheon alongside Leatherface and Buffalo Bill if the character were given more room to breathe.
The plot moves quickly, throwing in terrific grindhouse lines like, “They were a pack of brown-skinned Charlie’s Angels without a Charlie, intent on knocking down a demon’s door.” It’s thrilling to see Latinx-led horror, and Castro’s passion for empowering her sisters is the pounding heartbeat that keeps the story alive. She has a knack for visceral physicality, writing the most striking account of a shifter transition that I’ve ever encountered. You can feel every muscle straining and every hair poking through Maya’s skin when she shifts into her jaguar form for the first time. It’s bloody and painful and gripping, and that scene alone is worth the price of admission.
I do have a major quibble with the book, though: its lack of editing. The book is riddled with typos, half-formed thoughts, and awkward sentences. I feel like the publisher did Castro a real disservice here: just like Maya’s jaguar form wanting to burst out of her human skin, there’s a damn good story hiding underneath all the errors. If this were an ARC, I wouldn’t mention the typos at all, but there are just too many mistakes present in a finished book not to bring them up. There’s so much action, humor, grit, sex, and heart in this book that it’s a shame not to see the story realized more fully.
Despite the poor editing, I would love to read more about Maya and her shifter sisters. The book ends on an image that begs to be on the big screen, and the world that Castro has created is so original and intriguing that I’d love to see it turned into a series. Hairspray and Switchblades is a bloody feminist romp with a lot of fun ideas that it doesn’t quite know how to develop, but it’s still definitely worth your time. Hopefully we’ll see more of these powerful, kick-ass women in the future.
This is a 4- or 4.5-coffin read in need of a strong editor. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 coffins.