It is a story of the fight for survival, the power of a community, and the tragedy of World War II, as seen through the eyes of young Alejandro, his Ate Isabelle, and their friend/guerilla commander Domingo. The Karangalans and their neighbors keep their spirits alive by sharing magical stories of ghosts, love triangles, and witches inspired by tales Holthe grew up with.
Alejandro Karangalan is a 13 year old boy whose village just outside Manila is deeply affected by the Japanese occupation. He spends his days dodging Makilipi throughout the capital in search of food for his starving family, and his nights cramped in the cellar of his home with neighbors who had been thrown to the streets by the Japanese soldiers. Excerpt from page 3: