Grady Wrenn is a cultural anthropologist teaching an undergraduate summer seminar at a small New Mexico university. Her students want to investigate the local legend of La Llorona, a River Walker. Known locally as Maria, the River Walker haunts the rivers of the world luring abusive men to their deaths in revenge for the deaths of herself and two small sons at the hands of an abusive husband. Grady meet Elena Montalvo, a spiritual healer, one night at the Rio Grande river. Grady has her own demons to live with and walks the banks of the river when her insomnia won’t leave her. When Maria takes the lives of three men in Mesilla, the local men believe that Elena is working in tandem with Maria to find men to feed Maria’s blood lust. Elena enlists Grady to help find a way to end Maria’s raging vendetta. As they move down that path, the two women acknowledge a growing attraction for one another that is consummated after a particularly scary night when the local men want to take their vengeance out on Elena, and Grady must deal with Maria. In the end, Maria reveals her secrets that shock Elena to her core.
If you are like Grady and don't believe in the existence of ghosts or spirits, good or evil, this book will be an eyeopener for you. Culpepper tells her story without preaching and without proselytizing. She imparts information about Elena’s belief system in such a way that you may find yourself wishing you knew a spiritual healer either for yourself or someone you love. You may even begin to believe, just a little, in a spirit world.
You’ll also find yourself reading this book into the wee hours of the morning even though you have to be up early to go to work. You’ll smile at Culpepper’s subtle humor and may even find tears as the women of the men killed by Maria tell their stories.
Culpepper’s writing style can only be described as fluid and soothing. This is a multi-faceted book that will fascinate even the staunchest non-believer. Culpepper is a born story teller, and the reader can imagine her spinning this yarn of ghosts and evil spirits to friends around a campfire.