Quick goodreads* plot summary:
"On her twelfth birthday, Sierva Maria, the only child of a decaying noble family in an eighteenth-century South American seaport, is bitten by a rabid dog. Believed to be possessed, she is brought to a convent for observation. And into her cell stumbles Father Cayetano Delaura, who has already dreamed about a girl with hair trailing after her like a bridal train. As he tends to her with holy water and sacramental oils, Delaura feels something shocking begin to occur. He has fallen in love, and it is not long until Sierva Maria joins him in his fevered misery."
Servia Maria doesn't meet the priest until halfway into the book.
The first half of the book is a wandering, frenetic story about her family (and its brokenness), the city she lives in and all the things that give it life and how they move in and out of each other... it jumps back and forth in time, which is my pet peeve (it's sort of like watching a movie that also jumps back and forth in time, without the "2 years earlier etc" subtitle), so, with books it essentially becomes a guessing game.
When she finally meets the priest though ...
The story (and writing) is so enigmatic and charming and seductive and horrific and brutal and emotional and violent and painful and...
(I guess) I'm frustrated that I didn't like this as much as I thought I would (even if that second half was straight fire).
Some good quotes though:
Disbelief is more resistant than faith because it is sustained by the senses.
Then she looked at Delaura for the first time, weighed and measured him, and attacked with the well-aimed pounce of a hunted animal.
Everything that pertains to me is in the hands of God.
He passed his fingertips over her skin almost without touching her, and experienced for the first time the miracle of feeling himself in another body.
She had recovered her world. She helped slit the throat of a goat that struggled against dying, and cut out its eyes and sliced off its testicles, which were the parts she liked best.