El Elefante de Marfil, de Nerea Riesco

This novel aims to transfer the reader to Seville in the 18th century, through the life of Julia de Haro, León, and her descendants, in a family saga that leaves behind a game of Chess that began five centuries earlier, at the time of La Conquista, between Alfonso X the Wise, son of King Fernando III and Axafat, the Almohad governor of which Isbiliya was still. The fate of the Giralda depends on the resolution of this unfinished game. The whole plot is peppered with love, jealousy, adventures, secrets and mysteries that span three generations.

But the best and most enjoyable thing about the book are the historical events that are narrated, such as the Lisbon earthquake of 1175, the processions, the vicissitudes of the city, the world of printing presses, the religious orders involved in the plot, the urban descriptions , their customs and the human peasant with their different social classes, including slaves, bullfighters, dancers, bandits ... some of these secondary characters become more interesting than the protagonists.

Riesco is tremendously skilled at transmitting to us with his writing the sensuality of smells, flavors and sensations, and thus the eroticism of love affairs in this novel is magnificently narrated, with poetic overtones. Which is not surprising in an author who has published an erotic collection of poems (Naked and in the Dark). On the other hand, sometimes the loving becoming of the characters weighs down to a certain extent the plot that lasts too long, that game that sometimes seems very urgent and yet is abandoned for decades in the life of this family. If on the one hand this is realistic, it slows down the progress of the novel.

It is still curious that we see at times clear influences from Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) or Catherine Neville (The Eight), whom we believe that The Ivory Elephant surpasses in quality, and also echoes of Magic Realism, although more from Allende than from García Márquez.

In conclusion, it is a highly recommended book for lovers of historical, addictive fiction, with all the essential ingredients of the genre, and also very powerful and determined female characters who confront the ideas prevailing in their time and in their families, protagonists in the plots in an absolute way, and of course, some ahead of their time, in addition Julia de Haro is inspired by a real woman who ran the printing press that belonged to her husband when he became a widow, something relatively frequent at that time.