McNicholl, Damien. The Moment of Truth. New York and London: Pegasus Books, 2017. 336p. ISBN 978-1-68177-426-8. $25.95. Fiction

Set in the 1950s world of Mexican corridas, McNicholl’s second novel (after A Son Called Gabriel) follows 19-year-old Kathleen Boyd, a Texan with a passion for bullfighting. When she jumps into the ring in Los Pinos, Mexico, a common practice for aspiring matadors, she demonstrates courage but also inexperience, as she is nearly gored and trampled. After fleeing the arena, she’s tracked down by a businessman who places her with a retired matador. Despite the restrictive mores of the time, he agrees to train Kathleen, with the intention of profiting from her novelty, and quickly dominates every aspect of her life. Facing bulls will be only the first of her challenges. This novel brims with authenticity—so much so that some readers may flinch at the bloodier moments. The obstacles in Kathleen’s path are such that one can’t help but root for her. Inspired by the first professional female bullfighter in North America, McNicholl not only creates a convincing character, he dramatizes through her ordeals the intricate art of bullfighting. VERDICT An enjoyable read for those interested in the life of a woman determined to succeed in a man’s world.

Library Journal, 142, no. 10 (June 1, 2017).

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