Publication date: August 25th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBl...

Review || Weep, Woman, Weep by Maria DeBlassie

Publication date: August 25th, 2021

A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.

The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows. That’s La Llorona’s doing. She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check. That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone. She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself. But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening. What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism
Centered around La Llorona, the gothic fairytale is a feminist treat. If you are not acquainted with the story of La Llorona, the most common version is of a woman who marries a rich rancher. After bearing his children, she witnesses him with another woman and in a fit of jealous rage, drowns their children in the river. Unable to live with the grief, she spends eternity pacing the shores of the river, weeping and wailing. Weep, Woman, Weep takes this story and bestows upon it a fresh face and name. 

Mercy's life has never been easy. Generations of sorrow have tormented Sueño, New Mexico and La Llorona waits by the riverbank to drag the next generation down. The town and its people are well depicted but even here, bigotry is nevertheless alive and well. Ever present is the shade of La Llorona as the girls of Sueño are taught to conceal their sorrows and never, ever walk by the river at night. Mercy and her best friend, Sherry, have bigger dreams of leaving this little small-minded town but one day Sherry is touched by La Llorona and nothing is ever the same again. Mercy is determined that she will not lose her own vitality to the watery depths. She's been marked but won't give in.

Even with the heavy burden of grief on her shoulders, she finds quiet rebellion in her day-to-day life on the farm. She's jaded and wary but strength comes from within and Mercy has it in spades. She avoids the river, even standing the standing water of baths, and secretes her tears in jars so they will not be used to cause pain. Through it all, she perseveres.  The addition of a new neighbor leads Mercydown a path to another way of thinking. Mercy takes her roots that could entangle her, waters them with her tears, and lets them flourish into something beautiful. 

Choosing to have Mercy speak from the pages makes Weep, Woman, Weep more of a confessional than impassive story.  There are times that she stops herself from saying more than she means to say.  The use of first person makes Mercy's tale more intimate and believable. She's cutting and genuine and that's what makes her story all the more heart-wrenching.

Weep, Woman, Weep easily conveys the folklore vibe while still managing to be well-rooted in Mercy's world. At times, it's uncertain if La Llorona is merely in Mercy's head. Is she truly a supernatural spook? Whether or not La Llorona exists or is a convenient excuse for Mercy's stoicism is anyone's guess. One could look at it as a view of the role of women. How we are taught to swallow down our sorrow and put on a brave face to the world. How showing emotion is frequently viewed as negative and how our own hopes and dreams are put on the back burner sacrificially for others. This gothic fairytale is so beautifully written. Its haunting goes far beyond the grasp of La Llorona and weaves a beautiful story of endurance, fortitude, and love.