Diana Coker's Reviews > Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint

Devoted to Death by R. Andrew Chesnut
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it was ok
bookshelves: wish-i-hadn-t-bothered

Well, I really wanted to really like this book, but it wasn't to be. R. Andrew Chesnut just didn't really have enough material for a book. Some of the passages are repeated near verbatim in different parts of the book 2 or 3 times, like he needed filler. He includes conversations with devotees of the Bony Lady, though some of these have an awkward placement in the text. He's also included stories from people he knows personally, though one of them is not a devotee but lit a candle and said the inscribed prayer on a whim, which created a tone that he has basically written about a hobby topic that he & his wife took a bunch of photos for, though there aren't that many pictures included and they are all black & white. This gets annoying because he references a few of these B&W pics in the text, referring to colors & detail that , at least I couldn't, discern from the pics. It also bugged me that the picture he uses to demonstrate what is typical, even atypical for an altar for the Pretty Girl is one from a drug dealer's house in Texas. Again, though he says there is much more to the this skeleton saint than the drug dealers & other criminals that implore her favor, he constantly undermines that idea by constantly using narco altars & testimony as examples throughout the book. Chesnut really needed a bonified editor.

Supposedly he's been researching this unsanctified saint of the people for almost a decade and yet almost nothing is known (that he states) about her origins and her rise to being more popular in Mexico than the Virgin of Guadalupe. He has structured the chapters based on the multicolored candles one can buy for this saint's altar and covering how she is viewed, different prayers etc used to get the devotee's desired results, regarding each of these colors: blue, brown, white, black, red, gold, purple, and green. He spends a lot of time contrasting her with 2 skeleton saints, deemed her male counterparts, which may have seemed like a good idea, but again it muddled his points and again felt like he needed filler so this book would be 200 pages.

Pretty much the useful text is the concluding chapter where he recaps the colors and their aspects. Truthfully, I was expecting some more mythological as well as historical information. All in all until he has a lot more information on Santa Muerte, only the conclusion should be printed as a booklet.

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Reading Progress

July 6, 2019 – Started Reading
July 14, 2019 – Finished Reading
July 16, 2019 – Shelved
July 16, 2019 – Shelved as: wish-i-hadn-t-bothered

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