Audiobook Review: Santa Olivia – By Jacqueline Carey, narrated by Susan Ericksen
Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. Loup's father was one of a group of men genetically manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon, engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, sensory capability, stamina and a total lack of fear, and Loup, named for and sharing her father's wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider.
After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town.
Aware that she could lose her freedom, and possibly her life, Loup is determined to fight to redress the wrongs her community has suffered. And like the reincarnation of their patron saint, she will bring hope to all of Santa Olivia.
I love stories of all types, but my favourite are stories where the main character just happens to be LGBT. As in, it’s not the main focus of their identity, but just a facet of it - I think it better represents how I feel about my own sexuality which is why I adore it. As Loup discovers her sexuality and simply accepts it as a fact of life (with a minimum of raised eyebrows from the townspeople) it’s refreshing, and a great counterpoint to the swirl of mystery and drama surrounding her in the rest of the story. I cried, laughed, cheered and yes, even blushed throughout this audiobook. The scene setting, pacing and dialogue were on point and I felt like I was right there with them. The start was a little slow for me, but trust me you need to understand the background for the rest of the story to have its full impact. And who can say no to a story about a lesbian with superpowers??
Susan Ericksen is a masterful storyteller, and she didn’t put a foot wrong throughout this production. This book would have made me emotional on its own, but adding Susan’s talents into the mix turned what would have been quiet tears into sobs, and chuckles into laugh out loud guffaws. Her voice perfectly complimented the story and gave unique voices and lives to each character - so much so that although I am desperate to read the follow up, Saints Astray, I don’t want to go there until Susan does the audiobook version as it just wouldn’t be the same for me.
What is not to love about this audiobook? Go out and get it now. GO!