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A story of murder, revenge and healing set in Portugal. Adequate writing. A short story, amplified by a lot of backstory, so moves slowly.

The story begins with a bang. Beatriz Madiera kills Emilio, her lover, the father of her child. She is aided by close friend and second-string lover, Vincenzo. She rushes home to the fortress her family has built in the forest, driven by desire to see and protect her 7-year-old daughter, Isabela.

Then the story devolves into an interesting backstory for the better part of twenty pages, during which the forward motion comes to a virtual halt. There's a lot of nice writing. We believe Beatriz, who apparently dotes on her daughter. We later learn she is an unreliable narrator: at a breakfast, she is cruel and dismissive to Isabela, and we learn Isabela's long-time nanny and family retainer, Constança, is acting in loco parentis and that Isabela is closer to her than to her mother.

In the backstory, we learned that Beatriz is the inheritor of the Madiera cartel and is competitive with the Delgado cartel. Though Beatriz has been careful to kill Emilio in a private place, Cesário Delgado, the head of that cartel, has learned the she is the murderess. It's left hanging as to who tipped Delgado off. Beatriz meets Delgado, and we learn that Emilio was the presumptive heir to the Delgado Cartel. Delgado promises a child for a child.

Inexplicably, considering the often-repeated reminders that Beatriz considers security to be of the utmost importance and Delgado's promise, the next scene has Constança taking Isabel into town to play at the park. There is no explanation why this counterintuitive event would take place. Without spoiling the story, suffice it to say that predictable mayhem follows. Isabel is captured by Delgado and speculates about what might be happen in a grownup's voice.

The ending involves a nice twist but is not so much a conclusion as an invitation to the next chapter.

Madeira is a novelette with a short story-size arc. Or it's a short story with a lot of (interesting) backstory. It could be pared back to give it more energy... or it could be part of a longer work. The emotions are well-portrayed, but in the case of Beatriz, confusing. The descriptive writing is very nice, and the technique would benefit from an editor.

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I have been blogging on writing for 3 years, now published first book, a thriller. I have reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon, not on my website, but I would be happy to add a review page. I would rather review adult mystery/suspense/thriller.


About the author

Sophia Marie Joseph is a sixteen-year-old author from New Jersey. As she grew older, her writing ambitions became more serious, and she began to fill leather journals with writing ideas. She began to pen the manuscript that would become Madeira, and by late February 2020, the novel was finalized. view profile

Published on March 13, 2020

Published by

20000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

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