Born of a mother from El Puerto and a father from the llana, Antonio grows up caught between two worlds. Despite his father’s objections, his mother hopes that he will one day be a priest. But when the elderly healer Ultima comes to live with them, Tony begins to uncover a world of New Mexico spirituality that challenges his Catholic faith. Although some townsfolk accuse Ultima of being a witch, Tony’s family trusts her to heal his uncle who has been placed under a curse. Ultima saves him, but in so doing invites the vengeance of the evil Tenorio upon herself and her friends.
This exploration of the complex spirituality of New Mexico has become a much studied classic. It is truly a work of literary fiction, meant to be read slowly and contemplated–although the suspense of the Tenorio plot line certainly keeps readers engaged. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy literary fiction and exploring other cultures and religions.