Antonio "Tony" Márez The youngest of six children of Gabriel and María Márez. Six-year-old Antonio is a precocious boy who is intrigued by the events in his life and torn by several dilemmas that he faces during this period of his life. He is caught between the opposing destinies envisioned for him by his parents, and he struggles to find his own path. In the process, he serves as an "apprentice" to Ultima, adapts to going to school, makes his first holy communion, and witnesses several fatal events.
Ultima ("la Grande") The elderly "folk healer" who comes to live with the Márez family. She has been a midwife to many women in the area and is sought for assistance by those who believe they have been cursed. She mentors Antonio during her final years.
María Luna y Márez The mother of Antonio, spouse of Gabriel Márez, and close friend of Ultima. She is a devoutly religious woman with a strong conviction that Antonio should become a priest. She opposes the lifestyle of the cattlemen and seeks the stability and rhythms of farming.
Gabriel Márez The father of Antonio and husband of María. Gabriel has given up the lifeways of the vaquero but laments the loss. He believes the urge to wander in search of adventure is in his blood and is characteristic of his family. He dreams of going to California with his sons in pursuit of a new life.
Tenorio Trementina The malevolent barkeeper who accuses Ultima of placing curses on his three daughters. He is driven by hatred and revenge. He kills Narciso and Ultima's owl.
Samuel A schoolboy friend of Antonio who philosophizes with him and tells him the story about the golden carp. He is the brother of the Vitamin Kid and one of the magic people.
Cico The mysterious friend of Antonio who takes him to the hidden pond where the golden carp lives. He tells Antonio the prophecy of the golden carp and the story of the mermaid at the Hidden Lakes. He is also one of the magic people. Like Ultima, he has clear, bright eyes.
León Márez The first child of Gabriel and María Márez. He returns from WWII with the "sickness." He moves to Las Vegas, New Mexico, with his brother Eugene and later moves to Santa Fe with him and their brother Andrew.
Andrew "Andy" Márez The second child of Gabriel and María Márez. He returns from the war and stays behind when the other brothers leave for Las Vegas. Later, when the brothers return, he leaves with them for Santa Fe. Antonio has a special relationship with him, which changes when Antonio witnesses Andrew's failure to perceive the urgency of a call for help by Narciso.
Eugene "Gene" Márez The third child of Gabriel and María Márez. He also returns from the war and leaves with León to seek their fortune in nearby towns.
Deborah Márez The fourth child of Gabriel and María Márez. Deborah has been in school for two years and now speaks only English.
Theresa Márez The fifth child of Gabriel and María Márez. Theresa is learning English from Deborah.
Lupito The World War II veteran who becomes deranged and shoots and kills the sheriff. He is shot and killed in the river near the Márez home.
Narciso The friend of Gabriel Márez who tries to warn Ultima that Tenorio is out to do her harm. He is shot and killed by Tenorio as he is on his way to the Márez house to warn Ultima. He is one of the magic people.
Florence The young member of the schoolboy "gang" who does not believe that God is just or that He even exists. He drowns in a lake while swimming with the other boys. He is a fair-skinned, blond boy with an angelic face.
Lucas Luna The youngest sibling of María Márez. He is bewitched by the Trementina sisters and cured by Ultima.
Pedro Luna A brother of María Márez and Lucas Luna. He is Antonio's favorite uncle. He mentors Antonio one summer and kills Tenorio when he tries to shoot Antonio.
Prudencio Luna Antonio's maternal grandfather. He is the elderly patriarch of the Lunas.
The "Gang" Horse, Lloyd, Bones, Red, Abel, Roque, Willie, the Vitamin Kid, and others. These are Antonio's friends and classmates.