Almira and the Backward Family by Eugenio Negro

Almira and the Backward Family by Eugenio Negro
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (52 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

During the grinding struggle of gold rush-era California, a nine year-old girl learns a secret that sets her on a path to revenge. Her imagination and lack of education drive her and her family to an unavoidable conclusion. Her story is a western without romance and without honor.

Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes wishes get granted.

Almira was such an eerie child. The scenes that involved her interacting with the world around here were full of offbeat moments. She was written to come across as the kind of girl that flies under the radar of most adults. This was the biggest reason why I was so fascinated by her, as it was hard at first to imagine why anyone would overlook what made her so special. The slow process of figuring out why this was so made it hard to put this tale down.

This story spent a great deal of time jumping from one narrator to the next. It was confusing at times to adjust to yet another character’s take on what was happening because their points of view were so different from one another. This technique would have worked better in a full-length novel that had the time to explore why everyone reacted to certain events the way they did. There simply wasn’t enough space to divulge that kind of information to the audience, and it did affect how I related to the characters as well as the transitions between their perspectives.

The descriptions of the shack Almira and her family lived in were incredibly vivid. I can’t imagine trying to do everything this girl’s mother had to do to keep her family fed and happy in such a tiny house and with three young children underfoot. Spending so much time showing what it’s like to living in such a cramped environment was a smart decision. It made the rest of the plot even more compelling.

I’d recommend Almira and the Backward Family to anyone in the mood for something out of the ordinary.

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