La Llorona, also known as the White Lady, is a modern legend and the ghost of a woman found in Mexican myths and stories. She cries for her lost children by the riverside at night and is said to cause misfortune to anyone who hears her wails. She is known to kidnap children and take them away, never to be seen again. There are many versions of her all around the world.


Once, in a small village in Mexico, there lived the most beautiful woman in the world. She was young, tall and slim with long and silky dark hair and sparkling eyes. Every man within Mexico's borders wanted to marry her, but she never had time to get to know any of them due to her having to work all day to feed her parents. Her father would always ask her the same thing her every time she arrived home from a long day working in the fields: "Oh, hija. Why can't you marry a handsome and rich man so that we can stabilize ourselves?" But the lady thought she'd never find a man who would ever compare to her beauty. 


The flag of Mexico, the country that the legend of La Llorana originates from.

Until one day, a handsome stranger came riding into the village looking for shelter. The lady immediately fell in love with this stranger and, just like every man that came before him, so did the stranger. The beautiful woman married the handsome man the next morning to the delight of her parents, and for many years the couple was happily married. Eventually, the woman gave birth to two young boys who shared their mother's beauty and the man continued to love his wife unconditionally. He visited his family every evening and gave them expensive gifts and clothes to satisfy them. 

However, as years past, the age of the beautiful woman began to show. Her body was unable to produce more children for the man and her bones turned weak and brittle. Her wrinkles covered her whole face and her cheeks sagged low. Her eyes lost their natural sparkle and her silky hair turned dull and grey. Over time, the village men lost interest in her and began to seek others to romanticize with. The woman's husband turned away from his wife and began to have several affairs with other younger and prettier women. He became tired of her old age and spent all his days away from his home, much to the disappointment of his wife. Crying over the loss of her beauty, she would ask herself what she has done wrong.

One day, the woman was walking with her two sons alongside the village river when the husband's carriage appeared next to them. The woman smiled, thinking her husband had come back to visit them and rushed her sons over to greet their father. But instead, the carriage door opened to reveal that the husband had remarried a younger woman without the wife's knowledge. He brought his new wife out of the carriage and took her for a walk along the river, totally ignoring the woman and his children. The woman shook with rage thinking about how he did this to her after all she'd done for him. In her anger, she threw her two sons into the river, hoping that she would never see them again. When she came to her senses a few seconds later, she realized the sin that she had committed and jumped into the river herself, hoping that her dead body would eventually meet her sons. To this day, La Llorana searches by the riverside for her sons and it is said that if you hear her wails and cries and do not help her, she will haunt you and your children and all your descendants and curse your family with bad luck for eternity. If you do help her, however, she will think you are one of her sons and take you away on the rush of the river, never to be seen again.  

Rick Riordan Presents

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Paola Santiago comes to suspect La Llorona in the disappearance of her best friend and seeks to prove it.


  • La Llorona's name translates into 'The Weeping Woman'
  • La Llorona stories are common in areas with high populations of mountain lions, whose mating calls sound like women's screams. 
  • She is one of many 'white ladies' in modern myths around the globe. Another example of a white lady is 'The White Lady Of Balete Drive' in Tagalog mythology. The roots of the Filipino white lady may come from Mexico.
Paola Santiago series
Books: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
Main Characters: Paola Santiago
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Minor Characters:
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