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Las sombras de la escalera (The Shades of the Stairs) by Irene Vasco

February 10, 2017

Las sombras de la escalera (The Shades of the Stairs) by Irene Vasco


*After reading this article, you will know more about one of our best backlist books that tells a story about superstitions.

Do you believe in omens? Auguries? Forebodings? There are familiar omens in our society that we’re aware of, such as spilling salt, a picture falling off, mirrors breaking, seeing an owl during the day, cutting your nails on Friday, opening an umbrella indoors… or unintentionally walking under a ladder!

We all know butterflies are beautiful, graceful and full of colors, but nobody talks about black butterflies. Well, it seems that Roberto, the main character of Las sombras de las escaleras by Irene Vasco, already saw this creature more than once. Let’s find out more about it.

Roberto has always believed in superstitions and traditions. Now that he is starting a new school year away from his town, he begins to think that he has been cursed.

In Las sombras de la escalera, Roberto will compare the life in Tolú and the city where he now lives, having a rare feeling about it. Sure, almost no one apart from his family believes in omens: people without feet in Easter, “mandas” to save someone’s life, black butterflies... No one but Eulalia, a mysterious girl in Roberto’s class, will try to help him reverse the curse he has.

And it all started because of the nervousness about his new life. Then he forgot to follow certain steps to avoid the bad omen that meant having a butterfly near you:


“Cuando José Dolores me dijo lo de la mariposa, yo no vi nada

(o tal vez me hice el loco para no verla).

De lo contrario, la habría perseguido y hasta la habría matado.

Ésa es la costumbre en el pueblo:

las mariposas, sobre todo si son negras,

atraen la mala suerte y, por eso, nadie las quiere cerca.

Cuando las encontramos,

casi siempre escondidas detrás de las puertas,

inmóviles, como muertas

(no hay que dejarse engañar, siempre parecen muertas, pero no lo están),

las perseguimos con escobas,

o con lo que encontramos a la mano,

pero nunca las dejamos dentro de la casa.”


Everyone town knows what to do when they see a butterfly, but Roberto forgot, and know he is facing the consequences.

This book is unique because it includes unusual topics within fiction literature, even if superstitions and omens are fantasy. It shows a scenario where these elements are 100% believable.


“Ahora entiendo que no importa

que los fantasmas existan o no existan.

Las cosas no son como uno se las imagina

o como se las cuentan.

Son como son.

Así nomás,

Y nada se puede hacer.”


There are so many unknown things in this world, inimaginable episodes that escape our understanding, but we just need to continue our lives, believing or not believing in them. 

Written by Irene Vasco and illustrated by Patricio Betteo, Las sombras de la escalera is an enjoyable reading for anyone who wants a little mystery and suspense in their reading.


Title: Las sombras de la escalera

Author: Vasco, Irene

Publisher: Fondo de Cultura Económica

Format: Paperback and ebook, 72 pages, 5.9 x 7.5 in

Product code: 100298R001

ISBN: 9789681673123

Edition: 1ª, 2004

Ages: 9 years+

Other subjects: Traditions, Hispanic folklore, mystery and superstitions


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