Book Review: The Mark of Zorro

August 28, 2017
Johnston McCulley’s “The Mark of Zorro” was released, under this name, in 1924. It was originally published in 1919 under the name “The Curse of Capistrano,” which is Zorro’s other nickname throughout the book. Even most of us who haven’t read the book are familiar with the story through a variety of movies. Don Diego de la Vega is a mild-mannered caballero during the day and a daring thief, or protector of the abused, depending on your point of view, during the night. It is tempting to say that Zorro might remind one of Superman / Clark Kent, but you would be doing McCulley a disservice, since his character first appeared in 1919 and Superman not until 1938. It is just as easy to be reminded of Robin Hood (whose first literary appearance was a 14th-century poem, “Piers Plowman”), since both men defend others who can’t defend themselves against those who mercilessly take advantage of their positions in life. While the book is a pleasant and easy read, it does not extend much past that. Even if one was not familiar with the story, the ending is easily predicted inside of the first 20 pages and series of adventures, so that Zorro has become too repetitive and predictable to hold one’s interest for long. I’m glad I read it, if for no other reason than it is an important part of the Western genre and while I do not consider it time poorly spent, I would also not recommend “The Mark of Zorro” to the casual reader of Westerns that this be added to their list. Two horseshoes.