Another tale of mayhem, history and the macabre from Vargas Llosa. Whereas Death in the Andes was compared to a Diane Arbus styled portrait the visual artists this book evokes is Heiryonmous Bosch or Breughal. A medieval meets the wild west landscape(turn of the century Brazil) of prophets, bandits, water witches, droughts, a storytelling dwarf, flagellants, miracle healers, madmen, plagues, vultures, rats, a revolutionary phrenologist, pariah dogs, Barons whose time has past, circus freaks, a Utopian colony, and marauding destructive army. Festooned with grotesques and corpses this is a book of violence and horror but it is a conflation of real history and not fiction. A historical novel in the tradition of Tolstoy, McCarthy, and Lampedusa. Exhaustively long but worth it.