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Storms of Malhado

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Genre: Historical Fiction / Ghosts
Publisher: Independently Published
Date of Publication: March 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 252
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Galveston Island, Texas, September 2008 Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts. And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s home is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived there in different eras died in hurricanes—one during Hurricane Carla in 1961, one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to befall the United States. But that was the past, a fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s Broadway mansion, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship.

While Katie is not afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching. As even die-hard Islanders evacuate, her fears grow—fear of the looming hurricane, fear that she’s talentless as a painter, fear that her relationship with her boyfriend is already over. As Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life.

Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, and its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.

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“Taking place entirely on a beautifully moody Galveston Island, Ms. Sandovici weaves three simultaneous stories with ease. With a timeless tale, ethereal language, and complicated characters, readers will be entranced by this modern ghost story. How many times can the past repeat itself? How do we recognize people through generations? The author tackles this topic amid a backdrop of violent nature and intangible dreamscapes.”
Courtney Brandt, author of The Queen of England: Coronation, Grand Tour, Ascension
“Three women, three great storms, and one house, haunted by forbidden love and frustrated ambition. Get ready to be swept away by Sandovici’s foray into Galveston Island’s tempestuous history in this tale of lives intertwined across time.”
Donna Dechen Birdwell, author of Not Knowing

Drawing of mansion with two horses looking out of second floor windows. "Is it true about the horses..."

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Clueless Gent’s Rating

5 star rating

Storms of Malhado is a brilliant tale of three storylines separated only by time, that culminates in a “perfect storm” climax! Some readers may say that the pacing is slow, but anyone who has lived along the Gulf of Mexico knows that time is just naturally a little slower there. However, when the time comes for the pace to quicken, it takes off on a sprint.

Each storyline has its own set of characters. Each storyline has its own plot. Sandovici takes us from one story to the next, and then back, almost as if all the stories occur simultaneously. But they each occur decades apart. During the first few chapters I wondered how that was possible and where was this going. There were so many parallels it couldn’t be coincidence.

Regardless of the time each story took place, the author did an amazing job of bringing us into each story. With her description, Sandovici has us smell the salt in the air, feel the scorching Texas heat, hear the crashing waves, see the incredible colors in a blooming garden. But she also took us deep into the main characters.

All of the main characters were women. Yes, men had some prominent roles, but the character at the heart of each story was a woman. I think they were more similar than they were different. At least, they were similar in the traits where it really mattered. They were insecure. They were obsessed with forbidden love. They made decisions with their hearts. They were brazen in their attempts to capture and hold on to the love they sought. I could go on, but I’ll let you discover on your own.

Each storyline contains a hurricane, and there’s a lot of talk about past hurricanes among the characters, but the storms actually have very small roles. Storms like these usually take on the role of antagonist, and to an extent they probably do in this book. However, the real antagonist in these stories is the love each woman craves. I do not mean that “love” as a person. It is the emotion they seek that batters them.

The final few chapters, where the author ties everything together, are like the freshness following a storm. The air is cleansed. The light returns. And life goes on.

Storms of Malhado is an imaginative story, and it is told very well.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has loved, particularly if they gravitate to the surreal.

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.
Picture of Storms of Malhado paperback sitting on marble shelf with sea shell, starfish and red lantern.
Bookstagram courtesy of Christena.
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Maria Elena Sandovici Author Photo

Maria Elena Sandovici is a full-time writer, artist, and gallery owner living in Houston, Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005, her curiosity led her to Texas, where she taught at Lamar University for fourteen years. She felt attracted to Galveston Island from her first visit and lived there part-time for three years before her artistic career took her to Houston.

Sandovici is a 2008 graduate of John Ross Palmer’s Escapist Mentorship Program, a program that teaches artists business skills. She resigned from her tenured academic position in December 2018 and opened her own private gallery space. Her previous works of fiction are Dogs with Bagels, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, Lost Path to Solitude, The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, and Lone Wolf. She is also the author of Stop and Smell the Garbage, a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog, Holly Golightly. You can follow her daily adventures on her blog

ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of Storms of Malhado
MAY 21-31, 2020
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