Tehlor Kay Mejia’s brand-new ghost story has spookiness to spare, thanks in part to the many creatures of Mexican folklore that she’s packed into her mythic adventure. Let’s check out a few of these Monsters of the Rift that Paola has to face.
Although Paola is not wrong to think of a torta sandwich when she first hears mention of this word (“You know you really want-a/Torta ahogadaaaa. . . .”), the Spanish word for “drowned” describes a ghostly creature with a physical form, drained of life, barely sentient. Just think of it, you’re having a leisurely stroll on the riverbank, looking up at the stars, when a husk of a child crawls out of the water and pulls you into its murky depths. Creepy, right?
Who wants to cross paths with a red-eyed, demonic lizard-dog with vampiric tendencies?
La Mano Pachona
So, say you were a typical villager of local legend, struggling to make ends meet. And say you got ruined financially by a greedy merchant who gave you a loan with a terrible interest rate. Maybe you’d want to think bad thoughts, entertain curses, that sort of thing? You might think twice in the off-chance that merchant’s DISEMBODIED HAND crawls out of the grave, looking like the biggest, hairiest spider you’ve ever seen. Except it’s worse than a spider. It’s a DEMON HAND.
We introduced you to the most important chuapacabra in Paola’s life, Bruto, a puppy who manages to retain the best qualities of monstrousness and puppy-ness. But as far as scary legends go, they’re pretty high up there. Who wants to cross paths with a red-eyed, demonic lizard-dog with vampiric tendencies? Okay fine, they mainly drain the blood of goats, but should we really trust them to stop there?
These shape-shifting witches did not come to make friends. What they did come with are deafening screeches that summon swarms of bats. As if a trio of bird people with gray, leathery skin sagging off their skeletal bodies weren’t enough to make you beg for mercy…
The mother of all scary legends, La Llorona is the weeping woman of many a nightmare, condemned to wander riverbanks for all eternity, looking for children to drag into the river with her, replacing the ones she lost. Maybe if she’d stopped herself from drowning them, this could’ve all been avoided. But then we wouldn’t have such a terrifically terrifying novel as Paola Santiago and the River of Tears.