Article first published as Book Review: Missing in Machu Picchu by Cecilia Velástegui on Blogcritics.
Go along on a beautiful journey in “Missing in Machu Picchu” by Cecelia Velástegui. When a group of women who are Ivy League alumni, including a couple of wannabes, get together to go on a mystical tour of Machu Picchu they end up getting more than they bargained for. Deciding to take the trip to purge themselves of their addiction to online dating, they end up learning a lot more about themselves and why they have had to resort to going online to meet potential mates. The women admit to being fed up with the lies that they are told by their potential suitors, however, as the trip progresses, they realize that they are also misleading these men. The truth hurts.
What really hurts even more is the fact that their handsome, sexy tour guide Rodrigo has plans to take advantage of what little vulnerability they have. Rodrigo has a history of using poor, young Peruvian ladies. It is rumored that the offspring of these relationships end up getting sold illegally to wealthy foreigners. When he met Violette, a wealthy French woman, Rodrigo promised her love and a child. Since she was barren, the child was to be from one of the young women. After the child was stillborn, Violette also discovered that Rodrigo had stolen her fortune. Caught up in her anger at his deception, she accused him of sacrificing the child. Overwrought with emotion, Violette appeared to be mentally unstable when she went to court. This caused her to be expelled from Peru and for Rodrigo to become an outcast.
At the same time that Violette decides to return for revenge, Rodrigo sneaks back and sets up a tour with the spoiled Americans. To put his plan into motion, Rodrigo secretly works at seducing the women on the tour. He figures out their weaknesses and for some reason they fall for it. Joining the tour to assist Rodrigo is a band a misfits. They are in on most of his plan, and believe that when he gets what he wants they will be greatly rewarded. Following the group bent on revenge is Violette and two elderly Peruvian women named Taki and Koyam. These women want to halt his activities before he hurts more people. Taki has a special gift of being able to communicate with the mallqui, who are the mummified remains of ancient ancestors. Knowing where some are hidden from the government and looters, Taki protects them.
As the journey progresses Rodrigo begins to show his true nature and his insane plan comes to light. The ladies have to decide if they are going to fight for the group or just themselves. Taki and Koyam have to rely on their special gifts to try to save them from both Rodrigo and Violette. One would question whether or not they are worth the trouble. It is during this most trying time that the ladies start figuring out the truth about their selves.
“Missing in Machu Picchu” by Cecelia Velástegui is another beautifully written novel by Cecelia Velastegui. Combining historical fact with a modern fictional story takes the reader on an incredible journey. The mysticism and beauty behind the mallqui adds to the drama. Incorporating real pictures and drawings into the book brings it to life. It also made me interested in investigating more about the history of Machu Picchu, which I did. As with her other novels, readers will not be disappointed and really enjoy immersing themselves in this story.
Missing in Machu Picchu
Libros Publishing (2013)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (11/12)