Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.
Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.
Praise for The Fountains of Silence
"Spain under Francisco Franco is as dystopian a setting as Margaret Atwood’s Gilead in Ruta Sepetys’s suspenseful, romantic and timely new work of historical fiction . . . Like [Shakespeare's family romances], 'The Fountains of Silence' speaks truth to power, persuading future rulers to avoid repeating the crimes of the past." --The New York Times Book Review
“Full of twists and revelations…an excellent story, and timely, too.” --The Wall Street Journal
"A staggering tale of love, loss, and national shame." --Entertainment Weekly
* "[Sepetys] tells a moving story made even more powerful by its placement in a lesser-known historical moment. Captivating, deft, and illuminating historical fiction." --Booklist, *STARRED REVIEW*
* "This gripping, often haunting historical novel offers a memorable portrait of fascist Spain." --Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*
* "This richly woven historical fiction . . . will keep young adults as well as adults interested from the first page to the last." --SLC, *STARRED REVIEW*
* "Riveting . . . An exemplary work of historical fiction." --The Horn Book, *STARRED REVIEW*
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
They stand in line for blood.
June’s early sun blooms across a string of women waiting patiently at el matadero. Fans snap open and flutter, replying to Madrid’s warmth and the scent of open flesh wafting from the slaughterhouse.
The blood will be used for morcilla, blood sausage. It must be measured with care. Too much blood and the sausage is not firm. Too little and the sausage crumbles like dry earth.
Rafael wipes the blade on his apron, his mind miles from morcilla. He turns slowly from the line of customers and puts his face to the sky.
In his mind it is Sunday. The hands of the clock touch six.
It is time.
The trumpet sounds and the march of the pasodoble rolls through the arena.
Rafael steps onto the sand, into the sun.
He is ready to meet Fear.
In the center box of the bullring sits Spain’s dictator, Generalísimo Francisco Franco. They call him El Caudillo — leader of armies, hero by the grace of God. Franco looks down to the ring. Their eyes meet.
You don’t know me, Generalísimo, but I know you.
I am Rafael Torres Moreno, and today, I am not afraid.
The supervisor swats the back of Rafael’s damp neck. “Are you blind? There’s a line. Stop daydreaming. The blood, Rafa. Give them their blood.”
Rafa nods, walking toward the patrons. His visions of the bullring quickly disappear.
Give them their blood.
Memories of war tap at his brain. The small, taunting voice returns, choking daydreams into nightmares. You do remember, don’t you, Rafa?
The silhouette is unmistakable.
Patent-leather men with patent-leather souls.
The Guardia Civil. He secretly calls them the Crows. They are servants of Generalísimo Franco and they have appeared on the street.
“Please. Not here,” whispers Rafael from his hiding spot beneath the trees.
The wail of a toddler echoes above. He looks up and sees Julia at the open window, holding their youngest sister, Ana.
Their father’s voice booms from inside. “Julia, close the window! Lock the door and wait for your mother. Where is Rafa?”
“Here, Papá,” whispers Rafael, his small legs folded in hiding. “I’m right here.”
His father appears at the door. The Crows appear at the curb.
The shot rings out. A flash explodes. Julia screams from above.
Rafa’s body freezes. No breath. No air.
They drag his father’s limp corpse by an arm.
It’s too late. As the cry leaves his throat, Rafa realizes. He’s given himself away.
A pair of eyes dart. “His boy’s behind the tree. Grab him.”
Rafa blinks, blocking the painful memories, hiding his collapsed heart beneath a smile.
“Buenos días, señora. How may I help you?” he asks the customer.
Give them their blood.
For more than twenty years, Spain has given blood. And sometimes Rafa wonders — what is left to give?