Book review: The Head of the Saint

The Head of the Saint

How refreshing is it to find a book that is totally out of your usual genres? One of my Facebook group decided to read a book from Brazil and they chose The Head of the Saint As per usual, I did not read the blurb before I picked the book. But I had a vague idea what the book was about based on the discussions the other members had. But The Head of the Saint is not like anything I have read before. Was it good or bad then? Read more to know.

The Head of the Saint

Book Name: The Head of the Saint
Author: Socorro Acioli, Daniel Hahn
Genre: Fiction – Magical Realism, Young adult
Setting: Brazil

A few days before her death Samuel’s mother asks her fourteen year old son to light candles at the foot of three different saints and then to find his estranged father and his grandmother in the town of Cadeia. During this ill fated journey Samual finds shelter in what he first assumes as a cave. He later learns that it is the head of an incomplete statue of a famous Brazilian saint and is surprised to hear the prayers of the believers from the town of Cadeia. .

Cadeia is what you can call as a dead town with no prospect for development and many people have migrated away to other towns. The few people who stayed back have lost their faith in their saint and their religion. Samuel is intrigued by the sweet voice of a girl singing sad songs and is determined to find her identity. Meanwhile, he realizes he can solve the worries of the patrons by simple interventions and thereby restoring the towns Catholic faith inadvertently.

The Head of the Saint

Did Samuel’s little play help the town or make matters worse for him? Where is the line between human intervention and God’s play? This short tale The Head of the Saint will answer these questions and more. Though translated from Portuguese, this story set in Brazil will not deprive you of the native settings.

Even though I had a vague idea about the subject, The Head of the Saint was a pleasant surprise. It reads like a folklore and all the characters are intertwined. The Head of the Saint has a lots of religious undertones that we do not find in our typical YA books. It does feel at times like a translated work but it is worth the effort.

If you are interested in reading folklores from different countries, you can pick The Head of the Saint.


  1. Magical realism and me have a love hate relationship. Sometimes the book goes well and sometimes it doesn’t really work for me at all. But it sounds like this one was a surprise you really enjoyed. And you’re right, we don’t really see religion in YA much. The only one I can think of is Dress Codes to Small Towns which has me intrigued in this one.
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  2. Great review, now I am very intrigued by this book. I absolutely love reading about folklore, plus I absolutely love young adult and magical realism books. I am so going to try to check this book out one day, it just looks and sounds absolutely fantastic and amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post and putting this book on my radar.
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