“I really, really, really, really loved Zorro. Your details made each page so vivid. I loved the writing. It was so amazing how you drew a picture in my head with the words. I could always see what was happening on every page.
Your writing flowed beautifully. It made the story smooth.
I think that your plot ideas were great. Especially the narrator. That gave the story a little more change. That is a tool Lemony Snicket uses in his books, too. He throws in little narrator comments every now and then. You made great use of this tool in Zorro.
I think that you did a great job of creating an image of all the characters. By the end of the story, I could almost guess what a character was about to do. I could relate to each and every character that you had created. Even Jean Lafitte!
I think you always do a good job in creating strong women characters. In some daring-deed books, the women are gentle and weak. Well, not Isabel de Romeu. She was out there swinging her sword with the best of them.
My favorite characters were Diego and Bernardo, in that order. I loved Diego’s exploits as Zorro. Bernardo was amazing in disguise, too, but what he lacked was Diego’s fun-loving attitude. I loved how even with bullets whizzing around him (while he was on a horse) he could call back, “Hasta la vista, señores!” That was my favorite part of the book, that cocky little taunt.
I can tell that Zorro would be a difficult book to write. You did a great job of it. Love, Sam.”
—Sam McLaughlin, age 11
“A graceful imagining of the saber-wielding, justice-dispensing freedom fighter of yore. Latter-day Californian Allende…provides a back-story that brims with modern concerns…Allende’s tale risks but resists descending into melodrama at every turn. The up-to-date, even postmodern ending makes for a nice touch, too, and will gladden the heart of anyone ready in his or her heart to carve a few Zs into the bad guys.”
“Allende wants to have some fun, and in this she succeeds with a variety of spunk and good cheer…I am amazed at how enjoyable a picaresque novel can be, particularly one imbued with swashbuckling, swordplay, honor, hidden desire, unlikely coincidence and a good old-fashioned villain. Such elements are a reminder of the attractions of one of the main strains of world literature that starts with Don Quixote…The book has plenty of what Hollywood would call non-stop action, and this is told with a pleasure so keen on the author’s part that it’s difficult not to be swept up in it.”
—Craig Nova, The Washington Post
“Allende’s literary craftsmanship is impeccable. De la Vega is beautifully drawn, and Allende uses a lively narrative voice to create intimacy and suspense. Equal parts adventure, historical novel and family saga, Zorro is a moving portrait of a hero who is heartbreakingly human.”
—Minh Nguyen, People
“Isabel Allende leaves few swashes unbuckled as she follows her protagonist from the late 18th to the early 19th century, exploring the history of California along the way. She never condescends to the material and, as a grandmaster of magic realism, gives Diego’s saga a smooth, limpid flow.”
—Charles Shaar Murray, The Independent
“Reckless, unstable, attention-seeking, hysterical, sexually provocative, given to histrionic gestures, and with at least a split, dual, or possibly even a multiple personality, Zorro is the archetypal neurotic-as-hero. He also wears a mask. Obviously, out in the real world, you'd lock him up and throw away the key. On the page, though, he’s absolutely irresistible.
The story of Diego de la Vega, the son of an aristocratic Spanish landowner and a Native American Shoshone warrior, who becomes Zorro while traveling the world with his dependable sidekick Bernardo, is clearly a perfect fit for the author of The House of the Spirits and The Stories of Eva Luna.”
—Ian Sansom, The Guardian
“All fans of adventure and legend, of heroes and history, en garde! In a match made in heaven, Isabel Allende takes on the legend of Zorro and presents the swashbuckling saga of his formative years as only a storyteller of her caliber could.
Allende…graces Zorro with the sensuous imagery of California, Louisiana, and Spain in the tumultuous early days of the 19th century. Rippling with humor and energized with a storyline so robust that it swings from the chandeliers, Zorro is great fun. Her vision of how Diego de la Vega became the renowned avenger who slices a signature 'Z' to mark his deeds is a thrilling journey into a world in which cultures clash as often as swords.
Allende’s sumptuous descriptions of her characters are delightfully vivid stories in their own right.
But amid all the fun, Allende weaves in lessons in humanity as well. Cultures…are often at cross-purposes in Zorro, but Allende makes sure their commonalities are evident.
This is a big, sprawling story, superbly told. Allende, who was asked to write this book by Zorro licensors, succeeds in breathing new life into this decades-old character so that he may indeed ride again.”
—Amy Canfield, The Miami Herald
“Viva Zorro! This is not your tired matinee idol Zorro, nor the sexy cartoon Zorro of the comics. This is Diego de la Vega (the man who, with the flash of a sword, becomes Zorro), a swashbuckler of the first order: complex, compassionate, romantic, and sometimes ruthless. Allende is in rare and absolutely peak form in her just-plain-super dissertation on this folk hero of Spanish-American lore, the 18th-century California version of Robin Hood.
Reverting to her best work, Allende uses the tried (and sometimes tired, but not here) and true literary conceit of a tale told by a compadre of Zorro—someone (we don't know who till novel’s end) in close contact with our hero along his travels and travails. And from her Dickensian beginning in Alta California in 1790 to her surprising ending, Allende’s latest pulses with emotion, action, politics, and sensuality.
Allende has done more here than craft a new legend about Zorro that’s better written than Johnston McCulley’s series. She’s done what she did so well in Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia: Allende has reconstructed the time and place of de la Vega’s/Zorro’s exploits, and given him vivid new life.
There is, of course, romance and the intense sensuality Allende is known for, as well as a highly developed political perspective. All combine to make Zorro a fully realized, definingly modern creation.
The richness of her text (and subtext) evolves out of this superior understanding of character and intuitive ability to divine the place in which that icon from history was born and bred. Allende knows storytelling, and in Zorro, a thoroughly enjoyable, keenly evocative, and surprisingly moving tale, she has once again hit her best, most provocative stride.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“In her latest historical novel, [Allende] imaginatively creates, in the words of the narrator, ‘the origins of the legend’—the legend being none other than Zorro, the famous Robin Hood of eighteenth-century colonial California.
Allende’s mesmerizing narrative voice never loses timbre or flags in either tension or entertainment value. To describe her as a clever novelist is to signify that she is both inventive and intelligent.”
“Marvellous, marvel-filled…Beautifully written and utterly entrancing.”
—The Independent on Sunday
“Zorro succeeds because of the author’s desire to show that every man (and every woman) can fight for justice if he or she has the determination.
Allende’s Zorro is wonderfully crafted. She richly imagines Diego’s parents: his father, Alejandro de la Vega, a Spanish landowner, and his mother, Toypurnia, a Shoshone Indian warrior.
Allende will delight readers who are familiar with Diego, his beloved companion, Bernardo, and Zorro’s faithful black steed, Tornado.
True to her signature use of magical realism, Allende combines elements of mysticism, Indian folklore and ancient traditions to explain how the fox came to be Diego’s totem and spiritual guide.
Allende, who already is celebrated for her gift of storytelling in such best sellers as Daughter of Fortune, The House of the Spirits, and Eva Luna, gives Zorro the feel of a folk or fairy tale with her ability to draw readers in, hold their attention, and keep the story moving at an exciting pace. The book has a suspenseful air, and it’s not until the end that the novel’s unidentified narrator is unmasked.”
“In the course of her interesting career Isabel Allende has produced three distinct types of fiction…All three types converge in Zorro, one of those rare and perfect matches of subject and author.
Allende has reached into this cultural compost heap of pulp fiction, movies, and television and forged a character with a soul and a heritage. Allende…has rooted her story in a re-creation of Latin California and remade her hero, Diego de la Vega, into the first real all-American hero.
A picaresque novel with postmodern flourishes, the sinfully entertaining Zorro is serious fiction masked as a swashbuckler. And with luck, Allende can squeeze as many sequels out of the character as Hollywood has.”
—The Houston Chronicle
“The charm of Isabel Allende’s Zorro lies in her distaff point of view—the way she takes the time to connect the whole mask thing with the cosmetic challenge of protruding ears.
Zorro is a light and ripe adventure yarn, a female-friendly variation on an already famous figure of boy-driven pop culture.”
“Allende relishes the complicated history of the era, weaving historical detail that never feels gratuitous into her hero’s story.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“While the Hollywood version back then was akin—in creativity, at least—to the old adventures of The Lone Ranger, Isabel Allende’s version is enormously fuller and infinitely more interesting, bursting with a vivid and colorful personality.
Zorro is a terrific, new-fashioned swashbuckling tale full of fun, history and romance.”
“Diego’s crisis of identity, his relationship with Bernardo, and his love for a woman he cannot have make for enthralling reading. Allende is a beguiling storyteller, and Zorro provides a rich palate for her customary embellishments.”
“Allende’s Zorro combines unrequited love and good old-fashioned adventure…Allende pulls off a neat writerly trick: making the improbable seen possible. Zorro's back-story is practically seamless, with every quirk, from his athletic abilities to his mystical bond with Bernardo, smoothly explained.”
—The Seattle Times
“Best-selling novelist Isabel Allende’s vivid reimagining of the Zorro legend will make you want to pick up a sword and start slashing your initials into the nearest available bad guy.
This rollicking adventure yarn is that much fun, chock-full of romance and heroism, a swashbuckling read for the whole family…
Allende’s cinematic scene-chewing and brisk pace make Zorro a novel easy to read in an all-night session.
And the action! There’s a tragic pirate raid on the California estate, an event that scars both boys; a sea voyage with a crusty crew of sailors; magic tricks and acrobatics; a prison-break rescue (actually, two); a trek across Basque country with Gypsies; a secret society of heroes devoted to the pursuit of justice; capture by the charming pirate Jean Lafitte; a scheme to steal a fortune in pearls (it backfires, of course, thanks to the man in black); and more old-fashioned, rip-roaring storytelling than you can shake a sword at.
Remarkably, Diego is no cardboard hero checked out from central casting; Allende has skillfully rounded his corners, nuanced him, and breathed life into him as a somewhat foppish caballero by day, the fearless defender of the downtrodden (and no slouch with the ladies) by night. His dual nature perplexes and defines him.
Allende’s Zorro reads like classic 19th-century literature. Sometimes, there’s nothing like a seat-of-the-pants adventure to lighten the weight of the world.”
—San Antonio Express
“[Zorro] is hugely enjoyable. It appealed both to the sober-sided book reviewer that I am and the bespectacled, television-viewing lad that I was. I have been missing this kind of thing for 40-odd years; it seems simply not to be around. We have lost our appetite for narratives of frolicking farfetchedness and preposterous implausibility.”
—The Globe and Mail