Outside the Bones
This novel takes place in present-day New York City and Puerto Rico and explores the dark mystery surrounding a woman’s disappearance.
by Lyn Di Iorio
Published: September 30, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback
Fina is a big girl with a big mouth. She’s the neighborhood bruja, or “spirit worker” as she likes to call herself, casting spells for her neighbors in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She can’t believe it, though, when she puts an accidental fufú—or spell—on Chico, the irresistible trumpet-player who lives upstairs. “With so many scraps of his clothing … sprinkled with blood, gunpowder, sugar, spit, and God knows what else, poor Chico’s body didn’t know if it was being cursed or blessed.”
Chico recovers just as two women from his past turn up: his former beauty-queen lover and an attractive young woman claiming to be his long-dead daughter. Fina is not pleased. So she visits her mentor, Tata Victor Tumba Fuego, Master of Fire. He specializes in Palo Monte, the Afro-Caribbean magical art of controlling and manipulating spirits housed in cauldrons. The Ancient One, the oldest spirit working for Victor, wants a blood sacrifice from Fina, something she has managed to avoid. “We ain’t on the island no more, we don’t sacrifice in the mountains of Africa or Cuba; we do it in our apartments.” But she needs help, so she’ll do what it takes. All too soon she finds herself involved with a spirit whose quest for revenge can’t be stopped.
Weaving Afro-Caribbean witchcraft rituals with the sixteen-year-old mystery of a woman’s disappearance, Outside the Bones is an erotically charged ghost story set in both present-day New York and Puerto Rico. Following in the tradition of Anne Rice, Lyn Di Iorio’s brilliant debut novel takes a mesmerizing look at issues of race, class, power and greed.
Finalist, John Gardner Fiction Book Award
Silver Winner, ForeWord Review’s 2011 Book of the Year Awards
“Come meet Fina, the irrepressible, hilarious, tough-talking heroine of Lyn di Iorio’s delightful first novel, Outside the Bones. Written with humor and verve, no small amount of magic and the sassy supernatural, this no holds barred story will grab you by the lapels and not let you go.”—Cristina Garcia, author of The Lady Matador’s Hotel
“Utilizing rhythmic prose and enchanting humor, Lynn Di Iorio has written a brilliant love story full of magical urbanism that is sure to make Outside the Bones a modern-day classic.”—Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Chango’s Fire and Bodega Dreams
“Fina, the narrator of Outside the Bones is both raw and delicate, a particularly entertaining variation of the id writ large. Di Lorio’s observation skills are potent and poetic. A moving and entertaining read.”—Darcey Steinke, author of Suicide Blonde
“Toni Morrison meets Alexander McCall Smith on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in this brilliant tale of ghosting and rescue by Di Iorio’s unlikely heroine. Driven by raw humor, a wonderful eroticism and a laser ear, the author listens in on Fina’s world and shares observations as powerful as the noise from the cauldron.”—Catherine E. McKinley, author of Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World
“In the entertainingly loud and street-toughened voice of a Nuyorican ‘big girl,’ Lyn Di Iorio’s readers first believe that they’re following the erotic detailing of an old murder mystery, only to find themselves on a journey stretching from Manhattan’s Upper West Side through Central Park to a place in Puerto Rico where river and sea meet, where a body burned and where the bones have yet to find peace. A fresh and original approach to fiction grounded in Afro-Caribbean spirituality.”—Marie-Elena John, author of Unburnable
“A story of witchcraft, voodoo, race, greed, and power, Outside the Bones blends them all into a very unique and highly entertaining brew that will be hard to put down.”—Midwest Book Review
“Lyn Di Iorio’s first novel is a weirdly compelling, funny, sexy, and deeply strange tale of a Nuyorican practitioner of Palo Monte. [Di Iorio] has taken the crime story to a strange and mysterious new place. Adventurous readers interested in Afro-Caribbean culture will want to follow her there.”—Mystery Scene
“A well-written and captivating novel that draws you in from the beginning and keeps you hooked until the very end. It has a well-developed plot and the main character progressively grows throughout until she is larger than life. The settings are mysterious and creepy with more than a hint of gothic thrown in the mix. Reading this story is a fantastic journey, and you won’t soon forget it.”—Book Bargains and Previews
LYN DI IORIO was born in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico; her Puerto Rican mother’s family members signed the island’s constitution; her father was a half-Italian, half-Hungarian Jewish New Yorker.
She found ultimately that her main interests in life and literature were in the esoteric, the mysterious and, most of all, in “normal” surfaces that upon scrutiny reveal contradictory and strange depths.
A professor at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she teaches literature. Prior to Outside the Bones, Lyn published scholarship on Latino literature, notably a book called Killing Spanish, and wrote short stories. One such story, “Queen of Colomer,” was shortlisted by Robert Olen Butler for the Faulkner-Wisdom short story award, and the first two chapters of Outside the Bones received an honorable mention in the 2009 New Millennium Writings Awards Competition.
Lyn is at work on a second novel, which is now a finalist in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom Novel-in-Progress Contest.