Carlos Allende

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Carlos Allende is the author of Love, or the Witches of Windward Circle, a horror farce set in Venice, California, throughout the first half of the 20th Century. He was born in Mexico City in 1974, but can pull off 1985 under the proper light. He has three elder sisters, none of whom practices magic. Since he was a kid, he knew he liked boys and that he wanted to be a writer. However, he was too much of a coward to study writing: his BA is in Economics and he has a Master's in Global Management. He makes a living taking care of the finances for a vacation rental company in Venice, and is currently enrolled in a Master in Media Psychology. He lives in Santa Monica with his husband. Currently, he’s working on Coffe, Shopping, Murder, Love, an epistolary novel about coffee, shopping, murder, and love.



BY Carlos Allende • POSTED ON June 21, 2022

Elaborate scams and workplace murders abound in this bleakly comic novel.

In fiction, the strangest things can bring together the participants in a criminal conspiracy. For Charlie and Jignesh, the alternating narrators of Allende’s novel, their connection comes via an unsuccessful date. But it turns out Charlie has a large freezer for sale, and Jignesh happens to have accidentally killed a former co-worker and is frantically trying to cover it up. The novel opens with a flash-forward to Charlie wandering through the desert in Mexico, wishing that he “had never fallen in love with [Jignesh’s] wealth and with his ravishing South Asian skin color.” If that comes off as shallow and fetishizing, that’s the point. For his part, Jignesh has a sideline in writing genre novels with characters along the lines of “winsome Celt women with a wispy mane of red hair like Princess Salmonella McFallog,” and he isn’t as wealthy as Charlie believes him to be. Gradually, the two men become immersed in more unethical activities, from Jignesh’s creative use of workplace funds to outright money laundering. Charlie’s narration is prone to withering takes on the other characters and musings on his Southern upbringing. Jignesh has a more hapless perspective on the world, leading to some comic moments, as when he ponders the appropriate thoughts to have before killing someone: “One shouldn’t pray to his family Gods when committing a crime.” But he also has a more acerbic side that emerges in moments of stress. The high concept of Allende’s novel—placing two relatively average guys who don’t have any real reason to get involved in a murder/fraud plot in the center of one—is interesting. But this ends up being a book that sinks or swims depending on how you feel about the two narrators. That said, Charlie’s penchant for digressive cinematic deep cuts—“His face is as pale as Meryl Streep’s was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman when she first sees Jeremy Irons at The Cobb in Lyme Regis’s harbor”—is endearing.

Allende’s novel offers a stylized but uneven riff on crime-fiction tropes.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63628-035-6

Page count: 312pp

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Love, or The Witches of Windward Circle Cover

Love, or The Witches of Windward Circle

BY Carlos Allende • POSTED ON Sept. 1, 2015

Love, lust, and the occult combine in Allende’s deliciously humorous debut novel.

A small cottage in Venice, California, 1912. The household matriarch—a witch with a nefarious past—is dying and looking for absolution. She leaves behind three daughters: a pair of beautiful and narcissistic brats and one ugly, forgotten young girl. The youngest becomes the novel’s woeful protagonist whose misadventures form the backbone of this unique tale. In an unexpected twist on “Cinderella,” the nameless and voiceless girl becomes the household slave. Shunned from infancy, she has been kept in a crate, reviled by her family, and forced to care for her ungrateful half sisters. While the older sisters enjoy raucous satanic parties, cavorting with scores of dark creatures, the youngest sits at home and is told that if only she would clean more, maybe she could make it to the next demonic ball. As the years drag on, the nameless woman becomes increasingly obsessed with a desire to become young and beautiful, stumbling along as she attempts to achieve her goal. The novel’s strength is its humor, a tongue-in-cheek examination of all things occult. Allende juxtaposes the grotesque and the absurd, with often hilarious results. Readers are treated to the scene of a mother berating her youngest for ruining her prized curtains as she’s literally being dragged into hell. The novel is full of these moments in which characters fervently pray to God that their evil, murderous plans will be successful. It's darkly funny, but at times, gratuitous violence blurs the line between humor and gore: child sacrifices, multiple beheadings. A multitude of richly drawn characters adds color, such as a demon with a penchant for lipstick who helps his mistress in her quest for youth. Readers with an interest in Southern California history will enjoy subplots that look at Venice’s beatnik past as well as the rise and fall of The Gas House, a real landmark.

A decidedly dark tale for those with funny bones, strong stomachs, and open minds.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942600-49-7

Page count: 398pp

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Santa Monica, CA

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