A collection of magical-realist short stories narrated by Allende's recent heroine, Eva Luna (Eva Luna, 1988; Of Love and Shadows, 1987; The House of Spirits, 1985), which are set in nameless Latin American countries, any time in the past, and peopled with characters who could be and probably are meant to be someone else. Taking her cue from the creator of the story-chain genre, Eva Luna, like Scheherazade, responds to her lover Roll Carle's request for a story with two dozen tales of love, death, revenge, war, and politics. These concern, among others, a socialist priest whose sight is restored by prayers to a local saint; an exemplary schoolteacher who enlists the whole town in burying the body of the man she has decapitated because she recognized him as the long-ago killer of her only son; and a peasant woman who sells words so powerful that they turn a murdering brigand into a law-abiding candidate for political office. In the final story, "And of Clay are we Created," which is a conclusion of sorts, Eva Luna describes how her lover has been irrevocably changed by his failure to save a young girl caught in the muddy debris in the aftermath of an earthquake. The girl has reminded him of his own painful past in Europe. "Besides you," Eva Luna notes, "I wait for you to complete the voyage into yourself, for the wounds to heal." Eva Luna's storytelling then is implicitly part of that process. The writing is fluid and evocative, but the stories for the most part are slight, often seem familiar, and rely too much on a style that is becoming as formulaic as that of popular fiction. Allende can do better.