Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true 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 off 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.
Yadriel’s brujx family has trouble accepting him as a transgender boy. He wants to prove to them that he can be a brujo, so he summons a ghost. The problem is that he can’t send the ghost on to the afterlife. The ghost turns out to be a bad boy from his school, Julian. Julian wants to make sure his friends are okay before going to the afterlife because he can’t remember the final moments of his life. Yadriel agrees to help Julian, but as they get closer, Yadriel gets more reluctant to send Julian’s spirit away.
I loved the way this story looked at gender through traditions and magic. Yadriel’s family was very traditional. They didn’t want to accept him as a brujo because he was born a girl. Some of his family members refused to use his correct pronouns or his preferred name. This was a little complicated, since the Spanish language uses only male or female genders. Similarly, their magic system only identifies someone as a brujo (a boy) or a bruja (a girl). That becomes a problem when someone identifies as male, but the family sees them as female. Yadriel had the support of a couple of family members who helped him find his true magic.
I was shocked at the ending. I didn’t see the final twists coming at all. During the last few chapters, I was getting worried that the story wouldn’t end the way I wanted it to. However, there were some surprises and I was pleased with the ending.
This is an amazing debut! I’m so glad I finally read it.
What to read next:
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Love and Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford
Have you read Cemetery Boys? What did you think of it?