Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia
Yadriel wants nothing more than to prove to his family that he is a capable brujo. His family can’t believe it because he is trans, and traditionally the roles in the brujx community have been strictly gender-segregated. And how can somebody assigned female at birth fill the male role? So Yadriel sets out with his cousin Maritza to do his own coming-of-age ceremony to be ready for Día de Muertos. After their success with the ceremony, Yadriel’s cousin Miguel dies, and his body is missing. Yadriel tries to summon his spirit to ask him what happened, but something goes wrong and instead, he summons Julian, local bad boy who must have died recently. Julian has unfinished business and will not leave this world until Yadriel has helped him finish it. The more time the two spend together, the less Yadriel wants him to move on, either.
Cemetery Boys is a supersweet, inventive and engaging read that had me turning the pages like nothing. I really enjoyed it.
Cemetery Boys got on my radar due to its trans representation. Written by a trans author, it wonderfully balances showing what it means for Yadriel to be trans in all its not always easy implications, and also not limiting him as a character to being trans. It’s excellent and realistic representation and I hope that many trans kids, especially transmascs will get their hands on this book and feel seen.
Sticking with representation a moment longer, it’s also a wonderful take on latinx culture (in the USA), using the traditions and ideas to create a fantasy world that is far from the usual white stuff we so often get in fantasy novels. Here, too, I am sure that latinx people will feel seen by the novel, and this feeling is always a particular kind of joy.
But a book is more than representation of course. And Cemetery Boys doesn’t disappoint in that regard either. The characters are vibrant, the story is well-paced. The writing is not perfectly polished (yet?) but that is to be expected in a debut novel. It’s certainly not so bumpy that it throws you out of the story. The plot takes a couple of twists that came as no surprise to me, and probably won’t surprise other story-experienced people either, but since the book doesn’t hinge on surprising you, that is no problem at all. And honestly, if it had ended differently, it would have surprised me, but I also would have hated it, so thank goodness for being unsurprising.
It’s a quick, fun read that brings you into a world that you probably haven’t visited too often yet. And that doesn’t happen all too often, making the book worth reading and quite remarkable.
Summarizing: very lovely.