This remarkable first novel depicts life in the small Mexican town of Ixtepec during the grim days of the Revolution. The town tells its own story against a variegated background of political change, religious persecution, and social unrest. Elena Garro, who has also won a high reputation as a playwright, is a masterly storyteller. Although her plot is dramatically intense and suspenseful, the novel does not depend for its effectiveness on narrative continuity. It is a book of episodes, one that leaves the reader with a series of vivid impressions. The colors are bright, the smells pungent, the many characters clearly drawn in a few bold strokes. Octavio Paz, the distinguished poet and critic, has written that it "is truly an extraordinnary work, one of the most perfect creations in contemporary Latin American literature."