ARC BOOK REVIEW: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan


Publication Date: March 23, 2021
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Coming of Age

Publisher: Ecco
298  pages
Buy:  Kindle Paperback 


When Eva's husband is arrested for the murder of a friend, she must confront her murky past and embrace her magick to find out what really happened that night on the river.

Eva Santos Moon is a burgeoning Chicana artist who practices the ancient, spiritual ways of brujería and curanderisma, but she's at one of her lowest points--suffering from disorienting blackouts, creative stagnation, and a feeling of disconnect from her magickal roots. When her husband, a beloved university professor and the glue that holds their family together, is taken into custody for the shocking murder of their friend, Eva doesn't know whom to trust--least of all, herself. She soon falls under suspicion as a potential suspect, and her past rises to the surface, dredging up the truth about an eerily similar death from her childhood.

Struggling with fragmented memories and self-doubt, an increasingly terrified Eva fears that she might have been involved in both murders. But why doesn't she remember? Only the dead women know for sure, and they're coming for her with a haunting vengeance. As she fights to keep her family out of danger, Eva realizes she must use her magick as a bruja to protect herself and her loved ones, while confronting her own dark history.

A psychological thriller that weaves together the threads of folk magick with personal and cultural empowerment, River Woman, River Demon is a mysterious incantation of reckoning with the past and claiming one's unique power and voice.


I received an advance review copy for free, through book Sirens and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Jennifer Givhan's writing is poetic and lyrical. Every sentence evokes emotion and atmosphere. I loved the magical realism in this book and I appreciated the commentary on racial injustice in this book however, there were aspects of this story that just rubbed me wrong.

I found Eva to be weak and someone who didn't really believe in herself or her magick. She was very much stuck in the past and unable to trust in herself, her husband or her magick. Her growth is part of the story but some of her actions just left me cold. Her husband, Jericho on the other hand was a strong presence even though he wasn't an active character in most of the book!

The descriptions of ritual and religious practices that mostly have a negative correlation in the mainstream were beautiful.  I loved that she reminds us that these are the rituals of the slaves, the religions of people of color that have been twisted by white slave owners to be seen as evil or satanic. What people don't understand they fear and in that fear they create stories. 

Overall I loved the concept and the writing is exquisite.

Click on the 3 lines at the top of the blog to view my sidebar where you can follow me on facebook, bloglovin, and amazon