Southeast Missouri State University Press

The Way of the Saints

Elizabeth Engelman

Publication: September 1, 2021
Pages: 218

The Way of the Saints is a multi-generational, historical collection of short stories, based on the author’s family and her personal experiences as the daughter of a Santeria priestess. The linked stories explore how religious and superstitious narratives, along with over five hundred years of colonization has shaped the Puerto Rican experience. Taken together, these stories become an exploration of identity and self-determination from oppressive regimes, hungry spirits, and dominating mothers.


Words and phrases are curses and spells (as we have always known them to be), and you will read this book at your own peril. Its cover is a trap door — soon you will find yourself in times and places so seductive and dark that it will take a sacrifice to ever leave them again. Later, you might find yourself in a park on a sunny afternoon, but an odd, glittery trinket has been left for you in the grass, and you will quicken your step. At a garden party the lights will suddenly dim, and you’ll hear whispers behind your back and know not to turn around. Still, still, you will be in love. —Stefan Kiesbye, Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone

Three generations of women struggle with the inheritance of trauma in Engelman’s harrowing and yet uplifting tale. The Way of the Saints illustrates how one way to break free of the narratives forced upon us, is to author our own. A compelling debut by a storyteller of great power.—Jeff Parker, author of Where Bears Roam the Streets

A sweeping novel about three generations of women and their devotion to one another. The Way of the Saints is restless and abundant, moving back and forth in time and between Puerto Rico and New York, and considering at every turn the devastating allure of power, be it to harm or to heal. Elizabeth Engelman is an unerring storyteller. —Corinna Vallianatos, author of The Before Land

Elizabeth Engelman is a literary spiritist and her enchanting debut novel, The Way of the Saints, is a spell-binding success. Spanning several decades and alternating between Puerto Rico and New York City, the novel examines the tenuous ties that bind a family together. There’s turmoil and sacrifice mixed with political unrest and personal triumph. The novel features more sinners than saints and, in the end, it’s the alchemy of hope and faith that reminds the reader of what makes us most spectacularly human. —Jason Ockert,  author of Wasp Box


Elizabeth Engelman is a recipient of the Marianne Russo Emerging Writer Award and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Grant to Ireland. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and Endeavor Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Tampa, and an M.A. in Poetry from Lancaster University. She lives with her family in St. Augustine, Florida. 

Trade Paper, $18.00
ISBN: 9781733015332