Daughters of the Stone

A Novel

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Thomas Dunne Books

Finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers

It is the mid-1800s. Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child into a very special stone. Fela keeps the stone with her, waiting for the chance to finish what she started. When the plantation owner approaches her, Fela sees a better opportunity for her child, and allows the man to act out his desire. Such is the beginning of a line of daughters connected by their intense love for one another, and the stories of a lost land.

Mati, a powerful healer and noted craftswoman, is grounded in a life that is disappearing in a quickly changing world.

Concha, unsure of her place, doesn’t realize the price she will pay for rejecting her past.

Elena, modern and educated, tries to navigate between two cultures, moving to the United States, where she will struggle to keep her family together.

Carisa turns to the past for wisdom and strength when her life in New York falls apart.

The stone becomes meaningful to each of the women, pulling them through times of crisis and ultimately connecting them to one another. Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa shows great skill and warmth in the telling of this heartbreaking, inspirational story about mothers and daughters, and the ways in which they hurt and save one another.



Read an Excerpt

1 Arrival

A gray braid falling over each shoulder, Tía Josefa stuck her head out of the window of Las Agujas, the embroiderers’ cabin located just behind the main plantation house. The wagon returning from town swung around the main house and came to a final halt in the batey of Hacienda Las Mercedes, a sugar plantation near the northern coast of Puerto Rico.

She recognized Romero, the mulatto mayoral, sitting high next to the driver. His shadow crawled over the supplies that filled the wagon behind him. The man wore all black, even under the scorching sun. The brim of



Praise for Daughters of the Stone

"Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa's Daughters of the Stone sings as few novels can.  It also tells us of a culture and nation that is underrepresented in our literature: Puerto Rico. And it does so with brilliant flourishes in a narrative both gripping and intimate.  Conveying a wide sweep of history, as witnessed by several generations of women, the book has the warmth of autobiography while sustaining a firm and stately control of technique and language."--2010 PEN Literary Awards Program

"This commanding exploration of women's history will resonate with readers of strong African American feminist narratives like those of Toni Morrison and Ntozake Shange. With its unflinching description of slavery, it should also appeal to readers of slave narratives like Charles Johnson's Middle Passage and Manu Herbstein's Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade."--Library Journal (starred review)

“[A] compelling debut…Beautifully told by Llanos-Figueroa, this is an unforgettable saga of the magical beliefs binding one family for generations.”--Booklist

"Llanos-Figueroa's first novel is a beautiful, sensual tale of mothers and daughters, love and sorrow, hardship and pride."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Rejoice! Here is a novel you've never read before: the story of a long line of extraordinary Afro-Puerto Rican women silenced by history. In Daughters of the Stone, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa rescues them from oblivion and richly, compellingly, magically, introduces them to literature--and to the world. Bienvenidas!"—Cristina García, author of A Handbook to Luck

"This is a remarkable first novel, both magical and deeply real, that vividly renders the power of storytelling to a diasporic people. The story of each woman in her own time and place is like a luminous fiber, meticulously spun from hay into gold, which woven together creates an unforgettable history, grounded in a black stone that symbolizes the legends and rituals of the Old Ones, but spiraling into a wider world that connects stone to memory and earth to continents. I am happy to add such a clairvoyant new voice to the Latina literary heritage. Llanos-Figueroa's 'Fela', with her embroidery skills, her dreaming, and her dance of loss and survival, is kindred spirit to my own 'Concepción'. I could not resist the magnetic pull of these stories."--Alicia Gaspar de Alba, author of Calligraphy of the Witch

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

  • Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She taught in the New York City school system before becoming a young-adult librarian. Her first novel, Daughters of the Stone, was a finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. Dahlma has been named the winner of both the Best Female Author and Best New Author awards by the Go on Girl! Book Club. She has also won the Bronx Council on the Arts ACE and BRIO awards, as well as a Literary Arts Fellowship. She lives in the Bronx.





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Daughters of the Stone

A Novel

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa



Thomas Dunne Books