“Cloak of Blood” Literature for Night Owls

By Lucas Alamo

Do you live in a city or does the city live in you? You are part of the mechanism, a cog. In a city where ghosts are part of everyday life a mother clings to the idea of life diluted by normalized circumstances.

The latest book by Oswaldo Buendía, published by Ediciones Periféricas, recently fell into my hands. It’s always nice to run into these editions of Mexican crime novels. Peripheral as they are, judicious selections of what could be called the garlic of contemporary Mexican black literature.

I must say that those who have not yet read Buendía will be intrigued to find out about his peculiar taste for black stories. He gives us crime stories, underworld characters, and ordinary citizens who attempt to circumvent the limits of morality and fantasy. His characters are far from ordinary. 

“Cloak of Blood” is part of a series of stories that take place in a very particular city—the city of the dead, called Ciudeath. I should explain that it is not a dead city at all. Ciudeath is presented as a living element, chaotic, voracious, and full of mysteries like any other city in the world. In this place, fantastic characters dwell. There are werewolves, fairies, immortal beings and ghosts, and they all cohabit, suffer, and love equally. The laws of survival here are no different than in reality. With the Ciudeath series, Buendía goes beyond capturing a fantastic reality. He addresses the universal feeling of those who live in massive cities. He speaks of those who cry, enjoy, find, and lose while they engulfed by the jaws of the modern metropolis.

In “Cloak of Blood,” we follow a mother who has lost a child. We put ourselves in the mother’s shoes—we come to observe closely the anxiety, the fear, the courage of a mother who has lost everything when she lost her son. She is a woman who decides to take the path of revenge, a woman who has nothing to lose, and at the same time cannot gain anything. Is revenge the true path of the warrior? 

This short crime novel successfully extracts us from the modern bubble of social networks and digital communication. It takes us on a dizzying and violent hero’s journey where the concepts of good and evil lose their duality. Instead, they show themselves as an infinite palette of possibilities. The story unfolds to the rhythm of an action movie and we, as readers, become part of the decisions that will define the fate of a woman filled with hatred. She carries a great conviction to wrest from the city the truths that it hides in its sidewalks and avenues. The prose flows like water, full of cinematic images and references to iconic characters from literature and cinema. A read worth delving into a book worth collecting. With “Cloak of Blood” Oswaldo Buendía leaves us wanting to ask—no, to demand, more from Ciudeath and from this fantastic universe which ends up feeling so close.