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The She Devil in the Mirror
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The She Devil in the Mirror

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Laura Rivera's best friend has been killed in cold blood in the living room of her home, in front of her two daughters. Nobody knows who pulled the trigger, but Laura will not rest easy until she finds out.
Paperback, 178 pages
Published 2009 by Alma Books (first published February 2nd 2000)
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3.78  · 
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 ·  330 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
the she-devil in the mirror (la diabola en el espejo) is another gem from salvadoran exile horacio castellanos moya. the second of his books to be translated into english, (after last year's riveting senselessness, and the first of two this year (dances with snakes is slated for release in early fall), the she-devil in the mirror is a frenetic murder mystery written with rousing effect. related entirely by a single female character (and without dialogue or paragraph breaks), the story evolves at ...more
Kelly Lynn Thomas
I found this book really engrossing. It's written as if the main character is in constant conversation with you (she's kind of vapid and gossipy but she knows everyone else's dirt so you want to hear what she has to say). The chapters are long and there are no paragraph breaks, which might make it difficult for some people to get into, but makes it very easy to get lost in.

It's a great look into El Salvador and its political and societal unrest. If you're not too familiar with the country, I'd s
John Hovig
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deceptively clever postmodern "murder mystery".

Laura Rivera is superficial and spoiled. A self-absorbed chatterbox whose high-school graduation gift was a BMW -- her school quite conspicuously having been the American school, of course -- and who's never had a day of responsibility in her life.

Her very good friend Olga Maria is murdered just before the novel begins. On page one Laura is attending the wake, and in subsequent chapters, attends the funeral, the requiem service, and other related
Stephen Durrant
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moya is a writer of great skill who creates in this novel an unforgettable narrator, a woman whose best friend has been cruelly murdered. As the narrator discusses her friend's sexual and political entanglements, she begins to slip into madness and paranoia. These emotions are spawned to a great extent by the general climate of political fear that one encounters also in Moya's more famous novel "Senselessness." For a reader like me who does not understand what must be oblique references to Latin ...more
Murder mystery with a twist. Usually my thing. Set in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, Laura's best friend Olga Maria is shot dead in her living room in front of her two daughters. All very upsetting and such, and Laura is trying to find out who has done it. And along the way she finds out more and more about her best friend who she didn't know as well as she thought.

The interesting thing about this book is that it intertwines the history and politics of El Salvador with the book. The a
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I haven't decided yet whether I enjoyed this book or not. stylistically it was curious as it was the inner monologue of Laura Riviera as she conducts conversations with an unnamed third party (I suppose the clue is in the title) about her best friend Olga Maria who in the first chapter has been fatally shot by an unknown assassin.
In each chapter Laura conducts her monologue and a picture emerges of Olga's infidelities with various men against the background of a political scene in El Salvador w
Matt Briggs
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Character gives us qualities, but it is in actions — what we do — that we are happy or the reverse... All human happiness and misery take the form of action." — Aristotle

This seems like such a philosophically accurate and material way of seeing both drama but life to me, and yet, lately I've been thinking about this line and wondering if it is fundamentally a male way of perceiving drama/life? I resisted the idea that there was a male/female division in this kind of perception since it seemed s
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
Moya's got an awful lot on the ball. Between this and last year's (translation of) _Senselessness_ he's on an English-language roll.

This time we've got a nearly hysterical narrator talking to us, one long paragraph in each chapter. As with the previous novel, Moya manages to wring both laughs and chills from us as we read.

His novels are beautifully engaged with political and cultural life, they sparkle with particularity, yet they transcend that particularity to become something more universal.

Andra Watkins
Feb 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waited a day to rate this book to see how the finish lingered. With chapters that are a single paragraph and pulse-pulse-pulse writing, this is not a book for a casual reader. But, it is a wonder of creativity and stream of consciousness prose. By the end, I knew all the characters by heart, just from Laura's hysterical, judgmental descriptions. I'd love to see a sequel where her voiceless friend tells us what was really going on while Laura wove her tale.
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very unconventional, told by the narrator to you the reader as if if to her girlfriend, which really pulled me into the story. The ending was a bit abrupt and jarring, BUT the frenetic pace and effective style make this a book I may in the future revisit. I also plan on seeking out Moya's other works.
Pickle Farmer
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and disturbing. Wish I could write like this. A breathless paranoid monologue in which the scariest thing is that everything that the narrator is paranoid about could just as easily be real.
Kobe Bryant
The way this is written was just exhausting to read
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-the-world
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Wonderful narrative
Justin Evans
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Very, very clever, and extremely well done, but a bit of a tour de force. When Moya writes as a persecuted, paranoid, intellectual loser (Senselessness) or as Bernhard (Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador), it's not hard to accept. When Moya writes as a vapid, right-wingish, society dame, it is hard to accept, and yet he makes it work pretty well. The difficulty, as other reviewers have mentioned, is that, no matter how much fun it is to mock people like this, her voice is just really, really irrita ...more
This novel is a steady one-sided conversation by a high society woman of El Salvador whose best friend was murdered execution-style, and now she's trying to put together the pieces to figure out what happened. Holy exhaustion, Batman! While at times humorous, the non-stop gossip, paranoia, and overall cray crayness, gets to the point of driving you a bit batty (which, in fairness, builds the character to what she is). I will admit there were several times over the course of reading that I really ...more
Tom Mooney
THE SHE-DEVIL IN THE MIRROR by Horacio Castellanos Moya.
An interesting and highly inventive book from El Salvador's pre-eminent novelist. A sort of post-modern detective story, which takes the form of a frantic monologue delivered directly to the reader.
The voice is that of Laura Rivera, whose best friend has just been shot dead in her own living room, right in front of her two daughters. What unravels is a web of corruption, sex, violence and drugs, all played out in post-civil war San Salvador
Hannah Givens
There were a lot of great things in this book: The narrator's singular voice, the way political and social tragedies are dribbled out in her offhand references, the spectacularly successful second-person narration. But you never find out who murdered the friend. I thought for a long time that it was going to be "you," the friend she was talking to the whole time, and that would have been absolutely brilliant. But instead you never find out, so you're just left angry. If I'd gone into it knowing ...more
Damien Travel
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Laura learns that her best friend Olga Maria has been murdered by a sort of Robocop who could be linked to the police, she gradually loses her head and falls in a spiral in which all her certainties as a Salvadorian grand lady are smashed: her contacts with the highest levels of power, her many affairs which are intertwined with those of her dear Olga Maria and her family’s fortune. This crash is described with humor and a jubilant verve by a writer who knows his country’s failings, himself ...more
Mary Beth
She-Devil comprises a dizzying series of monologues from Laura Rivera, a privileged, narcissistic woman reeling from the murder of her best friend, and in just those nine unbroken streams of text, Castellanos Moya not only crafts a sharp-edged mystery and paints a dramatic portrait of Laura, but also vividly portrays the instability of postwar El Salvador and the corruption in the upper class. It’s a fascinating, compelling novel.

2019 Read Harder Challenge
7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or
Zara Armend
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great read!!! It's like nothing I've read before. The novel is a long conversation Laura Rivera is having with My Dear. And she tells My Dear everything that is going through her mind. It's about a murder but it's more about Laura's voice. Her voice grows "faster and faster, she send the story screeching around corners, her voice leaving tire marks along the way." Leaving the reader as frantic and it laughs.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This style of writing - no paragraphs and no dialogue - didn’t work for me. It was exhausting. There’s a lot of history of San Salvador and politics mixed in. The author no doubt wanted to protagonist to come across as batshit crazy and elitist and she did. I honestly don’t know if this was a cliff hanger or I just didn’t get it.
Ben Rowe
Hard to properly review without spoiling it. I found the stream of consiousness/conversational monologue style of storytelling annoying but handled well and apt.

Lots of good bits here even if the "mystery" elements were pretty obvious.
Cynthia K
I read this book for task #7 of the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America. It also satisfies task #10: A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman.
Matt Brown
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. such a great character and story. a lot of fun.
Halley Sutton
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gonna need someone else to read this soon so I can discuss the ending with SOMEONE.
Oh, I don't know if I get to count this for book club, not exactly detective or cosy mystery despite fitting vaguely the terms. I do love Moya's writing however, all stream of conscious and breakneck pace.
Apr 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laura Rivera, the narrator of this novel, is a recently divorced and self-absorbed woman of privilege, whose best friend, Olga María, has just been murdered execution style in her lavish home in San Salvador, in front of her two daughters. A renegade policeman nicknamed RoboCop is quickly identified as the killer—but who would have murdered this innocent and faithful wife and friend?

The novel is in the form of a narrative, as Laura speaks to another friend about Olga María's life. We soon learn
Apr 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I enjoy the effective combination of creeping paranoia, corruption, violence and black humour that define Moya's work (this was more successfully sustained to a conclusion in the 'She-Devil...' than 'Senselessness') and as a reflection of the political and social unrest of both his native San Salvador and Latin America more broadly, Moya's work stands out from his contemporaries but despite his obvious talents there's the nagging feeling that his books never quite deliver their full potential.

Brent Legault
I found the narrator to be just as grating as the author intended her to be, though I would have preferred a more elaborate or distinctive style than the rather plain, rather bland batshit served up by Moya.

I'm a fan of obsession and obsessive behavior (in literature) and I find that most obsessive characters have their quirks. It is their quirks that make the reading worthwhile. But when the author has to step in and help his character with creaky devices, like describing for the reader that th
Mar 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, own
Castellanos Moya was a professor of mine while studying writing in college, and I regret that it took me a year after graduating to finally pick up this book. I had to get used to the style in the very beginning, though as soon as I did I blew right through it in a day. I was hesitant when I saw the writing format, the complete lack of paragraphs or indentation. Books written like this have always been the bane of my existence because I find them next to impossible to get through, and most of th ...more
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HORACIO CASTELLANOS MOYA is a writer and a journalist from El Salvador. For two decades he worked as editor of news agencies, magazines and newspapers in Mexico, Guatemala and his own country. As a fiction writer, he was granted residencies in a program supported by the Frankfurt International Book Fair (2004-2006) and in the City of Asylum program in Pittsburgh (2006-2008). He has also taught in ...more