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The Ways of Walls and Words

Author: Sabrina Vourvoulias

Published by: Tor.com

Publication Date: April 2015

Description, from Lois Tilton [Locus]: "[I]n a dungeon of the Dominicans in 16th century Mexico, we find two girls, both in their own ways victims of the Inquisition. Anica is a Converso, whose entire family has been denounced for practicing their ancestral Jewish religion. Bienvenida [not her real name] is of the conquered, indigenous Nuata people, whose ancestral religion and lore are likewise viewed with suspicion by the Dominicans. Bienvenida, now a servant tasked to sweep the floors in the hallway outside the cells, is well aware that circumstances might one day place her inside. The Conversos are isolated, kept in solitary confinement in cells so thick-walled that voices can’t pass, but Bienvenida is able to hear Anica reciting poems through her door. Although it is forbidden, she initiates contact. Both girls have formidable mothers, but Bienvenida’s mother is a stronger presence in the story, an expert in the uses of native plants for purposes medicinal and otherwise. Under the Inquisition, this is a precarious occupation, but she believes she has an absolute obligation to help anyone in need. Bienvenida shares this belief, which is in part why she attempts to help Anica."

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