Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
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.
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“No, it wasn’t the end. It was a better beginning.”
I really liked this book; I feel like it’s one of those stories that feels cozy in a way but also has that touch of anticipation and danger that comes hand in hand with the magic and paranormal aspects of the story. I think it’s well done, and although I didn’t end up loving it entirely like I thought I would, I did have a great time with the characters and managed to connect with them and their journeys.
In this story, we follow Yadriel, who, as a transgender boy, struggles every day to be accepted by his traditional Latinx family, who don’t want to accept him as a brujx. Yet, Yadriel is determined to become one, and with the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, they perform a secret initiation ritual, but then tragedy strikes and now his goal is to find the ghost of his cousin in order to help him pass over to the other side, but in the process, Yadriel summons another spirit, the ghost of Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy. Julian is determined to find out what happened before he left, and Yadriel has no choice but to help him so they can both get what they want, but the more time they spend together, the harder it will be to say goodbye.
Even though this book is mainly described as a gothic and paranormal romance, which it is, for the most part, the book itself focuses a lot on Yadriel, his journey and struggle day by day to be accepted and recognized for who he really is by his family, which I love. I feel like the way this topic is touched upon is brilliant; I felt super engaged with what was happening to him, and after a few pages, I just wanted him to be happy and for his family to understand and support him. This book makes you really engage with what was going on, and I was rooting for the main character the whole time, which isn’t hard to do as I think he has a very loveable personality. Yadriel already knows who he is and is super sure of that, so more than anything; the author decides to show us a little bit of how others feel about him through his eyes. The main focus is the growth of Yadriel’s family members, who were still pretty ignorant and old school about what he was going through and who he was. There are eye-opening and quite painful scenes where Yadriel’s grandmother calls him by his dead name and where his father constantly displaces him and even minimizes him for his ignorance; I’m glad to see the growth of these minds towards the end, though. Also, Yadriel’s bond with his mother is so palpable and evident, even when she’s no longer with him , it’s touching how she has always been the one who has supported him with his decisions, and the lack of this figure in his life has a clear impact on his personality.
A journey of acceptance, of being proud of who you are, it’s a journey that opens your eyes to a lot of discrimination and ignorance in the world, but also gives you that light of hope that grows with the kindness and love of the right people, those who love and respect you in all your ways, and that’s what I find most remarkable about this book and what will stay with me the most.
I wanted to talk mainly about that side because I think it’s the one that had the most significant impact on me and what I feel might interest you; I believe transgender characters are still not very elaborated in literature, and this is a great book to add to your bookshelves.
On the other hand, we have magic since Yadriel’s family comes from a lineage of brujxs whose job is to help souls pass to the other side; this is the case of men, while women are healers and so on. I really liked the style of magic because I think it’s somewhat spiritual and cultural more than actual physical magic as such, you know? There’s no stuff like magic wands or sparks coming out of somewhere lol, it’s more like the power behind the beliefs, or at least that’s how I see it; anyway, there are rituals and iconical events, plus brujxs can see spirits, and that’s what this story is about, of course. I quite liked this factor, although it was always in a second plane for me as a reader since I liked much more the development of this story in its contemporary aspects and in the relationship between the characters, especially for how it portrays the family and so on—still a good complement.
I adored the stories about the saints and the evil spirits and all that stuff; in my land, it’s called “San La Muerte” entity which the families in this book serve in some way. All these stories and learning about the origin of the brujxs and why they must do what they do were fascinating to listen to and got me completely caught up.
The characters are good; I think I like them because they feel very realistic for the most part, especially since the interactions between them are solid and engaging. Julian was good as a character; at first, I thought he would be a cliche “bad boy”, so I was a little apprehensive about it, but then he won my heart, and his relationship with Yadriel is absolutely adorable, and although it’s rushed because the story takes shape in just a couple of days, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s pretty intense and moving. I also love the story of Julian and his friends, as they’re the family that each of them chose for the other, and I find that adorable. Maritza is excellent; I loved her, especially when they argue with Yadriel; you can see how honest she is and how she only says what she thinks, but at the same time, she’s like her protector and who has always been there for him, you know? I loved this bond. Yadriel’s grandmais the typical Latinx grandma, healing people with her rituals, cooking for millions of people and being highly protective over her family. Still, at the same time, she can challenge you really ugly, ICONIC, she’s very much my grandma, and I love that, lol. On the other hand, the other characters are all really good; I could, as a secondary character, highlight Luca; I think his story is very sad, but at the same time, he’s such a sweet boy, it made me want to protect him forever.
The writing style is REALLY good, descriptive? Yes, but still in the right measure. I came from reading Lost in the Never Woods, a book I adored, so I knew I was in for some addictive dialogue and some excellent descriptions and of course, that’s what I found. This author is very talented, and you can tell how much of himself he puts into his stories, which makes me feel like I somehow know him, you know? It’s a very personal and not so typical writing style, but it works for me, and I can’t wait to read more!
Something I didn’t like too much was the ending; I don’t know why it didn’t resonate much with me. The first part of the ending, which is the “BIG” revelation, was pretty obvious. I saw it coming from the beginning because it was very in your face, you know what I mean? It was there, and you just had to think about it a little bit, so that was disappointing, I was expecting the author to come out with something new, but it was just that. Then the second part of the ending is a bit better; I like how everything is “solved”, and the tense moments are pretty good, but I didn’t get that 100% satisfaction in me. The time jumps when creating epilogues ALWAYS work for me; I LOVE epilogues, but this time I don’t know; I feel like I needed something more to feel like it was fantastic; it was just okay.
In summary, it’s a book that I would recommend, especially for the Latinx representation. It always makes me feel very proud; I’m from Argentina, but Latinxs family structures are usually very similar, and in this one, I really saw mine somehow, and I liked it. I would recommend it because the main character is a trans boy, and that’s not something to take lightly or overlook; we need more representations like this one; I feel it was rich for me to read it. I think I’m wiser even now; I also believe it could create a lot of awareness about society in general and how there’s still discrimination against Latinxs families. Besides all this, the author has a style that, although I don’t know if it will work for everyone, it did for me twice already, and I’m excited to see what’s to come in the future; I feel it will only grow for the better. If you like magic, family aspects in all its forms, friendship, and the struggle for acceptance, this book has everything you’re looking for and even more! I may not be a big fan of the ending, but I know many will enjoy it, plus it’s a lot of fun to learn about different cultures and beliefs, so if that’s something that suits you, like suits for me, you’ll enjoy this book too. Read it already, or add it to your TBR!!!!
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