A Tunnel in the Sky

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The Return of the Sorceress
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted June 21, 2021

Not listed at Bookshop. Buy for Kindle from Amazon. A purchase through our links may earn us a commission. Last time I checked, 9/8/21, hardcover copies were still available at Subterranean Press.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia once again shuffles the genre deck, this time dealing out a tale of sword and sorcery. Most of that type I'm aware of is set in the distant past of a fictionalized Europe. Based on names and descriptions, I'd say this is in pre-Columbian Mexico, reminiscent of the Mayans or Aztecs. The sorcerers perform their magic through bloodletting, usually at the top of the pyramid in the center of the city. The main character is Yalxi, who has just escaped from torture at the hands of Xellah, her former lover, and the current Master of the House of Sorcery. In their youth, and along with their friend Itzyul, they had conspired against their own master, Teotah. Both Teotah and Itzuyl died in that encounter, but Yalxi was able to don the silver pectoral with the Diamond Heart, becoming the new Mistress of Sorcery, only to later be betrayed by Xellah.

This is a short novella, a quick read, but rich in descriptive detail as Yalxi slinks through the city to hide, to scheme, to plot her revenge against Xellah. Her first stop is a house she had lived in many years before, one in which she had hidden a ring. That ring is home to a nahual, a shapeshifting spirit, which could have escaped the ring and that house if it had wanted to, but it later tells Yalxi that it stayed because it wanted to be there if she ever returned. Throughout the adventure the nahual appears in the form of different animals, bird, cat, dog, butterfly, or snake, sometime helping Yalxi, sometimes taunting her. One other thing it can do is refresh her memory of past events, ones Yalxi might prefer to forget. Yalxi wants the Diamond Heart back, but it's hard to determine if she wants to destroy it or again use it to regain her power. I won't reveal her ultimate choice but invite you to find out for yourself.

The only sure way to get this in print is to order direct from Subterranean Press, but it is a limited release of signed and numbered copies so don't wait too long. The release date had been announced as June 30, but I got it in the mail today. The high price put a big dent in my book buying budget, but I've vowed to own all of Silvia's work in print, and I do not regret the purchase. I do recommend this, but if you'd like a lower price it's available for Kindle, and I assume other e-book formats will be the same price. Silvia has said it will also be in audio format soon, and there may be a paperback edition in the future.


Related Links:
Silvia's Official Website
My reviews of her other books


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Silvia Moreno-Garcia

June 30, 2021

Purchase Links:
Order hardcover direct from Subterranean Press
Kindle e-book from Amazon.

A purchase through our links may earn us a commission.