Book Review: The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo (3/5)

6 Mar

Each year for Christmas, my sister-in-law gets us books. This is one she got me a few years ago and I’ve been working down my TBR until I got to it. She picked it for me because of the setting, I’m sure. I have a Spanish language degree and I did my thesis on Basque National Identity. So a book set in Basque Country piqued my interest immediately!


Cover image via Amazon

The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo

Summary from Amazon:

When the body of a teenaged girl is found on a riverbank in a remote area, the crime appears all too similar to a murder committed only months prior, igniting the worst fears of the small community of Elizondo. Homicide inspector Amaia Salazar, a strong, borderline-obsessive investigator, is assigned to the case. After all, this beautiful, peculiar backwater steeped in the blood of the Spanish Inquisition, where pagan beliefs still flourish under a thin veneer of modernity, is a space she knows better than anyone. Forced to return to Elizondo, a town she has always sought to escape, Amaia is tasked with finding a serial killer on the loose.

As the murders in the area grow increasingly violent, the locals come to believe only one creature could possibly be responsible: a creature of Basque mythology known as the basajaun, or Invisible Guardian. But Amaia is logical—a professional—and she refuses to let local superstitions distract her from her careful detective work. As the investigation deepens, a troubling secret from Amaia’s past plagues her with nightmares and soon her findings seem to transform myth into reality. Everything she believes to be rational and verifiable is called into question. Now Amaia must fight her demons and determine if these murders are the work of a ritualistic killer or something even darker.

I was back and forth on this book most of the time I was reading it. I liked the mystery, but at times the plot seemed to get away from it and focus a lot on Amaia. I had mixed feelings about the incorporation of mythology and science here as well. I liked learning about the regional folklore, but wasn’t ready for it to play such a role in the plot. The story was fun and I can see why it’s sold so well. I wonder how much the other elements are typical of stories in that region and how much is uniquely Redondo.

I loved the characters in this book. The family relationships were complicated and dynamic. They felt very real and you could tell how deep-seeded some of the feelings these characters shared really were. I was glad to hear that this was the beginning of a series because there’s a lot left to explore in this family.

Flora was my favorite character. This might be a spoilers so skip this paragraph if you want to avoid that. I knew she was up to something but I had no idea what. I had no idea how she might get pulled into the plot or what she knew. I loved the complications her personal relationship with Amaia was adding to the plot and while Amaia’s ghosts seemed to take over the story at times, Flora’s addition to that plotline was always dynamic and fun to follow.

There wasn’t a character I particularly identified with, but having Amaia’s husband be an American helped me some. He was lost and confused about some of the same things I was so it gave a reason for Amaia to explain parts of Basque culture and folklore for someone who might not be familiar with it. James helped make something very regional accessible to those outside of it.


Dolores Redondo. Image via Wikipedia

I thought the ending of the book was really well done. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was still caught off guard and was surprised. I thought the ending was satisfying and riveting. I’m trying hard not to give away any spoilers here so I’ll only say it kept me guessing until the very end!

I felt like the basajaun was pretty unnecessary to the plot. It seemed obvious to me when he was described that there was no way a basajaun, if they were real, would have been murdering young girls. All the stories about it being real and people encountering one were fun, but didn’t seem to align with either Amaia’s personal journey or the mystery. Involving it more and more seemed oddly distracting and confused me. The book had been so grounded in fact and science and then dipping into folklore seemed a bit odd.

It’s hard to escape our past. Amaia’s past and her family history caught up to her in a very real way. She had to face the trauma she blocked out of her childhood and share it with her sisters who had no idea and didn’t know how to react to it. Her aunt had to help facilitate a lot of healing and we have to assume she’ll continue to do so as this family moves on. I thought the mystery and the Salazar family were wound well together and appreciate how it was complicated, like real life can be.

Writer’s Takeaway: Looking back, the clues in this book were very well spaced apart. I wouldn’t have realized it at the time though one or two things stuck out. I enjoyed watching all the pieces fall into place when they did. I liked how Amaia’s personal and professional lives ran together in this book and how it was hart to separate one from the other at times. It made for a very character-driven mystery, which doesn’t always happen.

Overall, enjoyable but a lot of elements didn’t sit well with me. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
THE INVISIBLE GUARDIAN by Dolores Redondo | What Has Been Read Cannot Be Unread
About Time I Read It: The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo | Maphead’s Book Blog
The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo | Reader Dad
“The Invisible Guardian – The Baztan Trilogy, Book 1” by Dolores Redondo | Mike Finn’s Fiction


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