Spain, 1648. Fifteen-year-old Luis is different than everyone else in the small, sweltering village of Riodelgado - because he can read.
Targeted by the local toughs, who make his life a misery, Luis works tirelessly to provide for his ailing mother and young sister. Then, one day, a wandering soldier arrives to the village and everything changes.
People are murdered. Children disappear. The mayor blames an ogre, and the soldier has evidence of the hideous creature. He demands it be hunted down.
It becomes clear to Luis that there is more to the story than the appearance of an ogre. Is the mythical beast just a smokescreen, designed to keep everyone from the truth?
The morning dawned much as any other, but many remembered this day as the last one of normality before death came to visit the silent streets. From afar, the old clock chimed out the hour as it always did, the peel of its bell cutting through the still air, shattering the quiet, but only briefly. Locals said the mechanism had come from Germany, or Italy. Nobody knew for certain and nobody really cared so long as it worked.
Luis Sanchez stepped out into the bright sunshine and took in a breath. Another beautiful day. For a moment, the sun shone within him and he hoped today might be a good day. His mood, however, soon changed as the mundane routine of each and every day bore down on him like a heavy weight. Thoughts turned to his mother lying in bed dying, his tiny sister Constanza sitting on the damp earthen floor, playing with the little wooden doll Luis had fashioned for her out of an old piece of wood. The images brought a sad, resigned smile to his lips. If only he could do more for them. If only he were older, bigger, stronger, somehow able to find a decent occupation and bring in more money. So many ifs and buts. He sighed, shoulders dropping, and resigned himself to the fact that right now, the only thing he could ever do was go to Señor Garcia’s bakery to pick up the bread for the early-morning deliveries, and get through. What followed soon afterwards would be worse, and he knew that. The trek to school to face the baying of the children from the village. Home by two, sweeping out the house, making the meals, reading Constanza a story before bed. Always the constant round of monotony and despair.