A Death for Beauty

Written by Alberto Rios Arias
Review by Laura Lloyd

Loosely based on Fanny Kelly’s Narrative of My Captivity and set during the American Civil War, A Death for Beauty tells the story of Virginia Mae Mercy.  After the death of her husband, father, and twin newborn sons, Virginia decides to move to Idaho with her oldest surviving daughter, eight-year-old Triste, in search of a new beginning and a better life.  Traveling with another couple and only days into the trip, Virginia and Triste are taken captive when the party’s wagons are overtaken by hostile Sioux.

Overall, the story moves along briskly; however, I was frequently interrupted by the author’s intentional mixing of past and present tense.  The dialogue format likewise stopped me a number of times.  In one disjointed scene, the speakers are identified as though they are in a play, and throughout the novel, incorrect punctuation left me scrambling to figure out which character was speaking.  Instead of enjoying a flowing, seamless read, I was repeatedly forced to stop and start. A Death for Beauty isn’t a story toward which I would usually gravitate. However, Virginia Mae Mercy is one character I won’t soon forget.