Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar

Written by Jess Wells
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

1865, Colombia. Betrayed by her family, Paloma sets out on her own, with only determination and anger as companions. When the very tall Paloma meets the very beautiful Orietta, a friendship is formed. They start the Caketown Bar, a home for castoffs of all kinds, and it quickly becomes more than a bar. It becomes a society where everyone is accepted, no matter how odd. Fake weddings are held just for fun. It is a happy, successful, and carefree life, until Orietta marries the bank manager.

This is a completely unique and captivating story that quickly drew me in, as each character and their experiences were introduced in such compelling ways. The ability of Paloma, Orietta and their friends to basically build a world where they all belonged in Caketown speaks to the misfit in all of us. This is a story of people who rose above rejection, hatred, and abandonment, built their own world, and then had to battle against the evils of war and a terrible man. It is also a story of mistakes, betrayal, and loss, and the way we fight to come back from that. This novel is steeped in magical realism, but contains an even more powerful magic—the one that happens when a kind soul reaches out to the abandoned or neglected, and they begin to blossom.