TITLE: Cemetery Boys
AUTHOR: Aiden Thomas
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2020
SETTING: Los Angeles, CA
PUBLISHER: Swoon Reads, MacMillan Audio
GENRE(S): YA fantasy, supernatural, romance, lgbt
Thank you so much to MacMillan Audio, to Swoon Reads and to NetGalley for my advanced copies of the audiobook and the digital arc.
TAGLINE and BLURB:
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.
Cemetery Boys from Aiden Thomas was a uniquely beautiful book about overcoming obstacles and just being true to who you are even in the face of adversity, with some wonderful culturally supernatural elements and a whole lot of heart.
Yadriel is a trans boy who wants to prove to his family that he can be a real Brujo if just given the opportunity to perform the traditional sacred ritual, but his father is not too keen on the idea. While his family tries to accept that he is a boy, they still struggle with pronouns and call him by his old name, which Yadriel tires of. So, with the help of his firecracker cousin and bestie, Maritza, they sneak off to the cemetery and perform the ritual alone.
After, when they search for the ghost of their recently murdered cousin, he is NOT the spirit they encounter. In fact, that spirit is none other than a schoolmate of Yadriel’s, a bad boy named Julian. They embark on a quest to find not only how Julian died, but what happened to their cousin Miguel. Julian is all barely contained anger and dimples and the more Yadriel gets to know him, the more he does not want to have to say goodbye when Julian’s spirit eventually has to pass on.
This was a breathtakingly beautiful story, written by an own voices author and narrated by another uniquely own voices narrator and it was truly something. Being taken along by the hand as Yadriel fights so hard for who he is and what he deserves was momentous. He is such a strong individual with so much life and so much power, and he strives to make change with such bravery. The relationship that blossoms between he and Julian is so woven and organic (as organic as it can be to develop romantic feelings for a ghost). And the strong family bonds encountered in this story were just fantastic. They all band around these beliefs and these traditions.
This story was steeped in tradition and lore and I was completely entranced from beginning to end. While most of that was the incredible work of Aiden Thomas, there was a huge part due to the narrator, Avi Roque. Avi’s narrative skills leant such a broad array of emotion to this already great story. And let me tell you, that the last 30% of this story flew by and I was not ready to leave them yet. It was a truly enchanting story and I cannot wait to see what Aiden Thomas does next.