A few weeks ago I read Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron. I thoroughly loved it so much that I begged to feature Jon and hear more about his thoughts on monsters. So here Jon is to tell us all about a creature some of you may have heard called La Llorona! (if you watch Supernatural or Grimm you’ll know Lo Llorona is a urban legend and both TV shows feature her at least once!!)
Be sure to check out my review of Man Made Boy because it was such a fun read.
My review of Man Made Boy
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There are a lot of monsters in Man Made Boy. One of the things I tried to do was include some lesser known monsters, particularly those outside of white European culture. There are so many to choose from, and they each deserve some time in the spotlight. I’d like to tell you about La Llorona.
I first heard about La Llorona from a friend of mine who is professor of Chicano Literature at the University of Maryland. We were sitting in a bar and I was telling him about Man Made Boy which was still in the rough draft phase at the time. I told him that I’d manage to get El Chupacabra in the story.
He said, “That’s great! You should try to get La Llorona in, too!”
“You’ve never heard of La Llorona? The Weeping Woman?”
I shook my head.
“When I was a boy in California,” he said, “grownups used to tell us, ‘Be good, or La Llorona will get you!’ I was terrified of her.”
I bought him another drink, and said, “Tell me everything you know about her.”
Like any good folktale, there are many variations on the story of La Llorona. In some versions, her husband betrays her. In other versions, she is seduced, then rejected by a handsome young stranger. Regardless of the reason, the story ends the same. Out of rage or desperation, she drowns her own children, then herself. At the gates of Heaven, she is asked, “Where are your children?” When she says she doesn’t know, she is told that she cannot enter the afterlife until she has found them. And so she wanders the Earth, searching for her dead children. At night, you can hear her crying, and if you are unlucky enough to encounter her, you see the tears of blood that stream endlessly from her eyes. Some say that if she sees a child wandering alone, she will try to snatch them away. Others say that merely hearing the sound of her wailing means you are marked for death.
This story, in one variation or another, pops up all over Mexico and the south-western US. She is part banshee, part Medea, and part classic ghost story. Endless grief in the wake of a terrible violence. She is in the “self-made” monster category. Her deeds are so terrible that they transform her into a monster. And yet, when you look at the story in the context of her society, a time and place where women had no rights and were either married by the age of fifteen or sent to a nunnery, you see there is more at play here. She was hemmed in on all sides by an oppressive patriarchy with no hope of escape. It’s not so bad that we forgive her for murdering her children, but perhaps it’s enough for us to at least understand how someone could become that desperate and hopeless. After all, we still have stories like that in the news now. She could happen again. And that, in my opinion, makes her all the more frightening.
Pretty much every character in Man Made Boy is a monster, but very few are depicted as genuinely scary. La Llorona is one of them.
Love can be a real monster.
Seventeen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.
Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.
This hilarious, romantic, and wildly imaginative tale redefines what it means to be a monster—and a man.