I just got this excellent review from Pantalea Mazzitello, an academic from the University of Parma, author of Il Bacio Spudorato a brief history of the osculum infame, and an expert in literature from the middle ages. If you read it with an Italian accent you’ll enjoy it best!
Love, or the witches of Windward Circle,
an American evil and humor tale
The confessions of a witch on her deathbed slowly trigger a whirlwind of events, whose acceleration will overwhelm the characters dwelling in the Windward Circle. The witch’s two eldest daughters are beautiful yet monstrous and will make the third youngest daughter’s life, the horrid but human protagonist of the novel, a true living hell. However, the protagonist has no name and no voice and not even Hell wants to host her before Satan. After being thrown out of Netherworld, the apprentice will try to conquer youth and beauty while striving for redemption through spells, potions, demoniac familiars, kidnappings and brutal murders. Nobody is really what it seems and every character may conceal centennial vampires, penitent werewolves or disguised duck paws.
The story abounds with precise details, which collect elements from the great history of witches’ persecutions, and sometimes plays itself the role of a handbook for wannabe witches. No detail is left out while describing the gathering ritual of witches, i.e. the Sabbath, including the Osculum infame, a symbol of homage and loyalty to the Lord of Darkness, and the revolution of the traditional Mass rites. The reader will unexpectedly brush up on the history of witchcraft and will discover its most characteristic features, obscene details and the foundations of apostasy.
Allende’s work is both a novel and a theatre play: the characters seem to enter and exit the pages while performing the role they were given, against the background of a narration belonging to the twentieth century only for its setting, but which reveals itself as a representation of the most contemporary social facets, thus winking at today’s readers.
It’s horror, it’s grotesque, it’s tragicomic: the early twentieth century in Venice, California, has never been so dark.
(University of Parma)