Rummanah Aasi
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Review: Unlike the rest of his family, Yadriel is kept from having a quinces, the traditional coming-of-age ceremony to become a brujo. Yadriel is trans and gay, but it is his gender identity that prevents him from participating in his family responsibility of guiding the dead to the afterlife. His family is reluctant to look deeper and see if Yadriel's gender identity actually has any affect his abilities. Yadriel grows tired and frustrated from being on the sidelines. He decides to hold his own ceremony with the help of a fellow "outcast" of the family, his best friend and cousin Maritza. Since magic requires a blood sacrifice, human and/or animal, Maritza refuses to use her healing magic based on her vegan principles thus making her an odd ball. When Yadriel calls on Lady Death to bestow her blessings upon him and make him a brujo, Yadriel and Martiza both feel an acute loss of their own when their cousin Miguel dies suddenly and a new spirit named Julian mysteriously appears. Are these two deaths connected? Why can't they find Miguel's body?  How can they guide Julian's spirit to the afterlife? Yadriel and Maritza begin their adventure and seek answers of their own as they team up with Julian.
   Cemetery Boys is a delightful adventure, mystery, and a slow burn romance. I loved the seamless integration of Spanish phrases and the Dia de los Muertos traditions from many different Latin countries such as Mexico and Cuba. There are no explanatory commas that drag the story down, but rather context clues to figure out what is being said. I also loved the ethnic diversity within the characters. Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican while Julian is Colombian. What really makes Cemetery Boys standout from other LGBTQ+ fantasy books is that Yadriel and Julian belong to this community unapologetically and that is only one part of their identity. Thomas is more focused on themes of what makes a family (both what you are born into and one that you create), death, loss, abandonment, and rejection as we unpack Yadriel and Julian's identities and learn of their backstories. While Yadriel's father has a hard time seeing and accepting his son, it is not because of being transphobic but I see it as his struggle between upholding traditions without question and striving for full self-acceptance. I think it is really important that we see Yadriel's father make mistakes but takes steps to fully understand and embrace his son.
  The mystery is not surprising and close readers can figure it out before Yadriel does, but I was more invested in the characters' journey. I also didn't quite feel the romance between Yadriel and Julian, but I enjoy seeing them together. While there is a central romance between Yadriel and Julian, the book does explore love in both familial and platonic terms too which I really appreciate. Overall this a joyful and enchanting story that will surely bring a smile to your face. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language both in English and in Spanish and scene of underage drinking and drug usage.

If you like this book try: The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon, Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland
1 Response
  1. I really thought this one was well done and enjoyed it even though I was worried about the ghosts aspect. But, it didn't bother me at all and I liked all aspects of it.

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