"The more I thought about it, the more I decided that six was the magic year."

In 1926, six-year-old Juan Aguilar is on a family camping trip in Questra, New Mexico. He is exploring the woods when a mountain lion spots him and chases him. Terrified, Juan seeks refuge in an “old dilapidated adobe house,” where he walks through a door and is transported one hundred years into the past. The misplaced Juan is taken in by the Silva family, whereupon he discovers a connection with other missing children, a curse with the Bella witch, and the minister and witch hunter, Luciano Del Valle. Juan learns of his own special powers of sight with the spirit world. As dreams and visions plague Juan, he searches across the Old Southwest for answers and clues to these supernatural occurrences while trying to find a way back to his family. When he finally does reunite with them in 1936, he strives to fulfill a promise to the Silva family.

There is much that happens along with a host of interconnected characters in Martinez’s slim tale of magical realism and dark magic. It is a peculiar story that’s tinged with elements of a fairy tale and a time-traveling historical western. Martinez’s novel blends these genres in an adventure which explores a haunted landscape, familial bonds, and a boy’s coming-of-age quest of self-discovery. Even more uncanny is the author’s confession that this story is based on personal experiences when he was six years old and which his family did not believe. Martinez is uncertain himself whether or not they happened, and thus the novel feels both fictional and autobiographical. Like reliving a dream that could possibly be real, Martinez examines his own mystery in tandem with Juan’s mystery. It’s an intriguing read either way, and Martinez leaves us with hints of possible future stories to come.

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