About this Book
Set in the small town of Guadalupe, New Mexico during World War II, this novel follows the story of Antonio, a young boy who meets a curandera named Ultima. The main plotline involves Ultima's struggle to stop the witchcraft of the three daughters of Tenorio Trementina, the main villain. Antonio is forced to deal with religious and moral issues, and as he grows up, he finds that he must choose between the two opposing families from which he came: wild and untamed vaqueros from Antonio's father's side, and the Lunas; quiet, religious farmers from his mother's side. His father wants to help Antonio make his own choice about his future. His mother's dream is for him to become a Catholic priest, but over the course of the novel Antonio becomes disillusioned with the faith and through Ultima learns of the broad awareness and possibilities of other gods. Much of the novel is spent with Antonio trying to reconcile Native-American religion with traditional Roman Catholicism. In this story Antonio asks questions concerning evil, justice and the nature of God. He witnesses many violent deaths, which force him to mature and face the reality of life. Ultimately, the Catholic Church, dominated by female imagery by its concentration on the Virgin Mary and a vengeful Father God, on ritual and superficiality, is unable to answer Antonio's questions. Realizing that the Roman Catholic Church represents the values of his mother, Antonio cannot bring himself to accept the lawlessness, violence and unthinking sensuality which his father and older brothers symbolize. Instead, through his relationship with Ultima, he discovers a oneness with nature with no value judgments.