Chapters 27–33

Paola and her friends love science, astronomy, and the natural world — but when they encounter La Llorona, a ghost from Mexican folklore, they embark on a supernatural adventure.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. prod
    urge on; cause to act
    The not-quite-ghost girl sat eerily still, but when her gaze turned on Pao, it was obvious: Pao’s pushing and prodding had backfired.
  2. cunning
    showing inventiveness and skill
    And the girl was smart, cunning.
  3. naive
    inexperienced
    But she was too naive. She hadn’t seen enough of the world....
  4. transfixed
    having your attention held as though by a spell
    Pao watched Ondina, transfixed by the longing in her eyes.
  5. deadpan
    deliberately impassive in manner
    “And I’m the lucky winner," Pao said, trying to remain deadpan despite the terror freezing her throat and chest.
  6. flounce
    walk in an emphatic or exaggerated way
    “You want to walk free knowing that someone’s daughter had to die, someone’s friend, so you could flounce around showing off your hair?”
  7. vindicate
    show to be right by providing justification or proof
    Pao held her gaze, vindicated. “And you think you’ll be free once she does it? That you can just go and live your life? Do you want an eternity of facing her disappointment, Ondina? Because it doesn't seem to be making you very happy now.”
  8. subtle
    difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
    It was almost too subtle to notice at first—a section of glass, warping and swirling until it looked like a face.
  9. visage
    the human face
    And then, beside it, another visage formed, and another, until there were more faces than blank wall.
  10. wraith
    a ghostly figure, especially one seen shortly before death
    She was describing the pathetic ghost Franco had discounted a century ago, Pao thought as she struggled to sit up. A wraith who had not yet become shrouded in legend.
  11. shroud
    cover as if with a burial garment
    She was describing the pathetic ghost Franco had discounted a century ago, Pao thought as she struggled to sit up. A wraith who had not yet become shrouded in legend.
  12. pauper
    a person who is very poor
    “Why?” Pao asked, wanting to buy herself time, but also shamefully fascinated by La Llorona’s transformation. From a wailing pauper barely worthy of local gossip to the scourge of the rift and beyond....
  13. scourge
    something causing misery or death
    “Why?” Pao asked, wanting to buy herself time, but also shamefully fascinated by La Llorona’s transformation. From a wailing pauper barely worthy of local gossip to the scourge of the rift and beyond....
  14. incentive
    a positive motivational influence
    It would give Pao the incentive to keep fighting when her fear was rapidly overtaking her bravery.
  15. whim
    an odd or fanciful or capricious idea
    “It’s up to me to know what’s best for her, not cater to her silly whims.”
    “It’s not a silly whim to want to prevent suffering,” Pao said.
  16. dais
    a platform raised above the surrounding level
    "Enough!" La Llorona cried, and she turned to the dais in the middle of the room.
  17. resolute
    firm in purpose or belief
    “Enough, Mother,” came her voice, a little shaky, but resolute.
  18. imperiously
    in a manner showing arrogant superiority
    “Let them go," Ondina said, sweeping her arm imperiously at Franco, Emma, and Dante.
  19. penitence
    remorse for your past conduct
    I was branded a sinner for loving. For daring to have joy without penitence and fear.
  20. mutinous
    characterized by a rebellion against authority
    Her mutinous daughter was the much greater threat.
  21. waif
    a homeless child especially one forsaken or orphaned
    In the face of her mother's shining, unnatural strength, Ondina looked small and pale, a waif clinging to the boundary between life and death, threatening to let go.
  22. pallor
    unnatural lack of color
    They both lunged at the same moment, their movements eerily similar despite the unnatural size and pallor of La Llorona's form.
  23. inconsolable
    sad beyond comforting
    And then his abandonment, and her inconsolable grief, pushing her to the edge of madness.
  24. petty
    preoccupied with unimportant matters in a spiteful way
    Her self-doubts and petty jealousies, the quick temper that had bonded her to Ondina and set this whole thing in motion. Those flaws would feed on the power and pervert it, she knew.
  25. rove
    move about aimlessly or without any destination
    Pao felt a little lonely as her eyes roved over them, but she tried to shake it off.
  26. interim
    the time between one event, process, or period and another
    “Wait, the what now?" Emma asked, looking a little dazed, and Pao suddenly felt overwhelmed by how long they’d been apart. How much had happened to both of them in the interim.
  27. emulate
    strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
    Dante seemed to understand, and besides, Pao could plainly see how much he wanted to emulate Franco.
  28. rakish
    marked by a carefree unconventionality or disreputableness
    He had a kind of magnetism, a rakish, irreverent joy that was peeking through the layers of fatigue and stress.
  29. ecstatic
    feeling great rapture or delight
    It was like this, with ecstatic boys hanging from his arms and shoulders, that the presumed-dead former leader of Los Niños de la Luz made his entrance.
  30. nonplussed
    filled with bewilderment
    “Ondina?” Pao asked, nonplussed. “What do you mean?”
  31. insidious
    working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
    “We’ve been fighting the rift for a long time. It’s insidious, and Franco knew what he was up against better than anyone. Believe me, he didn’t do anything he didn’t decide to do."
  32. contemplative
    deeply or seriously thoughtful
    Pao, Dante, and Emma walked the rest of the way to the boundary in contemplative silence, and Pao realized that each of them, in their own way, was getting ready to reenter a world they’d left behind.
  33. corroborate
    support with evidence or authority or make more certain
    Their story about getting lost in the cactus field had passed muster without much examination. It didn’t hurt that it was corroborated by Señora Mata, who told of her own girlhood mishap in the same field, winking at Pao when the two moms weren’t looking.
  34. furlough
    a temporary leave of absence, especially from military duty
    After many phone calls, the trio had been given furlough for today, because it was a special occasion.
  35. peal
    a deep prolonged sound
    “No, thanks!” all three kids chorused, then broke into peals of laughter.
Created on December 7, 2020 (updated December 23, 2020)

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