Mexican-American Pura Belpré honoree Bowles (Chupacabra Vengeance, 2017, etc.) brings his passion and expertise to this new compilation of mythological tales from Mexico.
Beginning, as so many mythologies do, before the foundation of the world, Bowles weaves a chronological tale of creation and destruction, death and resurrection drawn from Mesoamerican sources. Early tales explore the failed attempts of humanity under the blazing sun or in terrifying darkness. Though human beings tenaciously gain a lasting foothold in a sea-ringed world, conflict and toil persist. The narrative continues through early pre-Columbian history and on through the Mayan and finally the Aztec empires as Bowles adds threads from Mayan, Toltec, Mixtec, and other Indigenous folklore traditions. From deep cenotes to frost-covered mountains, there are few hopeful or happy endings to be found. Rather, the specters of death, violence, vengeance, and blood sacrifice are ever present, which may turn away readers with less stomach for gore, though the mayhem is rarely gratuitous. Despite the darkness that pervades most of the tales, Bowles’ dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid. Though an index is sorely needed, students of folklore will find a rich trove to mine here.
A needed and worthy addition to any folklore collection. (pronunciation guide, glossary, source notes, bibliography) (Mythology. 14-adult)