Catherine Barnes is an unlikely adventurer. An artist and children’s book illustrator, she is content with her life as mother to 14-year-old Isaac and wife to Elliot, a professor at a university in Iowa. But when she discovers that Elliot’s been doing more than teaching his students, and Isaac nearly flunks out of 8th grade, Catherine finds herself at a crossroads. And so begins author Deborah Clearman’s debut novel, Todos Santos.
Unsure of what to do with her marriage and where to turn for help with her rebellious son, she travels to Guatemala—Isaac in tow—to spend the summer at the invitation of her fiery sister-in-law, Zelda. Shortly after arriving, Catherine leaves Isaac in Zelda’s care and hires a guide to take her to the remote village of Todos Santos, or “All Saints,” in order to find inspiration for her next book. It’s a village bound by legends of the ancient, vengeful gods of the mountains and fears of black magic, as present today as they were when the village was established thousands of years ago.
As Catherine gets closer to her guide, Oswaldo, and becomes acquainted with the ways of Todos Santos, she learns of a more recent history that plagues the town: the Civil War or Violencia. Still fresh in the villagers’ memories, this violence seems to fuel the newest threat—rumors of foreign baby-snatchers and devil- worshippers on the way to the village.
When Isaac is kidnapped, his fate is thrown into Catherine’s hands. Panicked and desperate for help as the tension in the town grows, Catherine is forced to face her obstacles alone. Todos Santos takes readers to a place where the possibility of self-discovery and love are wrapped in unexpected danger.