Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories is a collection of stories where each tale is unique and layered. I can’t remember reading a short story collection where every single tale brought you on an emotional rollercoaster like this, but also centered around such wonderful elements of everyday life, family, and great food!
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories edited by Yamile Saied Méndez and Amparo Ortiz –
What a collection! I had a blast learning about the lore and spooky creatures from Latin America. A few sounded familiar, but most were totally new to me! There were just so many powerful tales here.
My favorites from the collection include:
- Beware the Empty Subway Car by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
- Dismembered by Ann Dávila Cardinal
- The Boy From Hell by Amparo Ortiz
Per usual, here are my notes on each story.
The Nightingale and the Lark by Chantel Acevedo –
On her fifteenth birthday, this young girl is finally ready for her first hunt. But first, she meets with the boy she loves, a boy that she is not allowed to see as their families have deep history. Will love win over the duty of family?
What a tale to kick off the collection! This one had me so nervous throughout, just waiting to see where this girl’s loyalty would take her.
¿Dónde Está el Duende? by Jenny Torres Sanchez –
After months of being asked, this family goes to visit relatives in Florida. The young girl is looking forward to reconnecting with her cousin, but when they arrive he acts like he can’t remember them. The girl soon learns why.
This was so unsettling. Especially one of the story elements toward the end that makes you question if they really just wanted a visit, or if there was more going on here.
El Viejo de la Bolsa by Alexandra Villasante –
When a new child is brought to this home, the group tells a scary story while at the dinner table. Little do they know. There’s more truth to this tale than fantasy…
This was so eerie! What a bad idea to tell tales like this in front of an already skittish child.
Beware the Empty Subway Car by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite –
Living a life as a lougaru isn’t easy. A tale told in two different timelines, we learn about this girl’s rocky upbringing and how she ended up in New York City while we also see her surviving in the city.
I absolutely loved how this one jumped around, slowly giving us more information. I really enjoyed the line about fate or choice. And the two scenes that let you fill in the gaps! Brilliant.
Dismembered by Ann Dávila Cardinal –
After her 18th birthday, this young woman is thrilled to get away from her awful stepmother but isn’t quite sure what to do next. When lawyers call her into their office and tell her about the inheritance her grandmother left her, she is stunned. But just one thing is missing, her rosary.
This tale, while focused mainly on grief, also had a wonderfully spooky element. When the two merged, I was so excited to see what would happen!
Blood Kin by Ari Tison –
After learning of her grandfather’s sudden death, she’s immediately suspicious. Her mother tries to assure her it was an animal attack, but she isn’t buying it. Traveling to Costa Rica for the funeral, she immediately goes to investigate and finds much more than the answer she was seeking.
This poor family has been through so much. The grief and focus on just trying to move forward was fully present, even faced with this recent tragedy. I really admired the girl’s determination to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps!
La Boca del Lobo by M. Garcia Peña –
Returning to visit family, this young girl keeps being teased about the time she went missing for a bit when she was younger. But while she brushes everyone off, she can’t help but be called to the woods.
Such a wonderful reflection on family ties and traditions hidden in the shadows.
Bloodstained Hands Like Yours by Gabriela Martins –
All this young woman wants is to be seen and to live a good life. After turning eighteen and being kicked out of the system, she lives on the streets. Headstrong, she decides to call out to the man rumored to have been killing people from her group… and he answers.
This tale had so much beauty mixed into the darkness. A perfect blend!
The Boy From Hell by Amparo Ortiz –
Growing up learning how to kill vampires, this young woman knows what to look for, but she has her eyes on one specific vampire.
This was such a fun vampire tale! There was plenty of humor and drama mixed into the bloodshed!
La Patasola by Racquel Marie –
While on a camping trip during their senior year, this girl just wants her boyfriend’s attention. He’s distracted and she thinks he’s angry with her, but she’s about to learn exactly what he was up to.
This was a blood-boiling tale of high school relationship drama and how cruel people can be, mixed with a beautifully gory element.
The Other Side of the Mountains by Claribel A. Ortega –
Determined to find his sister after she was taken, this young man asks for help from a family friend. But what dangers will he run into during his search?
I loved the determination of this character. His innocent willpower was infectious, but as a reader, you just know things won’t end well.
La Madrina by Yamile Saied Méndez –
A woman who has reached rock bottom due to a dangerous and abusive situation tries to end things. Surprised to meet an older woman in the forest, she begins to take care of things for this woman as she reflects on her life and life in general.
This one doesn’t shy away from the darkness! My heart broke for this poor girl.
Sugary Deaths by Lilliam Rivera –
When a 23-year-old suddenly begins hanging around the local pizza shop with the Pac-Man arcade game, this 16-year-old is the only one who can see right through him. Watching what he did to her friends, she bides her time until she finally steps in.
Oh boy, a story all young girls need to read. The “cool older man” just isn’t as cool as you think.
Leave No Tracks by Julia Alvarez –
When her mother passes away, this young woman travels back to their hometown to be with her family. She feels lost, but once she learns more about where she came from, she realizes what she needs to do.
This tale starts out so sad and only gets worse as we learn more about this girl’s life. But as soon as she meets her family, that time changes.
The Hour of the Wolf by Courtney Alameda –
All this girl wants to do is successfully sneak in to see a horror movie. But of course, fate has other plans. Between the drunk boys and her school bully, things don’t go as planned. But that’s not the only danger lurking.
I loved the quiet horror of this one and how the monster was both very much present, but also off on the peripherals.
My Favorite Passages from Our Shadows Have Claws –
An occasional streetlight cast a cone of warmth and clarity where Esther could make out ancient marble crypts and statues of poured concrete. But in the dark those same shapes turned into sleeping giants and gardens for monsters.
– El Viejo de la Bolsa by Alexandra Villasante
Each tale is taller than the last, tiny bits of truth baked into the center of an entrée of lies.
– Beware the Empty Subway Car by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
I couldn’t continue that thought. The power of it pushed down on my shoulders and was going to shove me to the floor until I was nothing more than a puddle of sadness. I took a shower in the hopes of washing it away. It helped. A bit.
– Dismembered by Ann Dávila Cardinal
They share smiles that speak volumes I hope to read one day.
– La Boca del Lobo by M. Garcia Peña
My Final Thoughts on Our Shadows Have Claws –
I had such a blast with these tales. I absolutely loved the range here and how so many of the stories played with mixing grief and family with the horror.
If you enjoyed the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections, you’re going to love this collection as well!
Thanks for reading!