Cemetery Boys is a delightful YA paranormal fantasy debut set during Día de Muertos that features a trans main character, a ghost love interest, gay romance, brujeria and is bound to capture your heart! I absolutely adored this book and its characters; I cannot WAIT for you to read it.
About Cemetery Boys
Publisher: Swoon Reads | Release Date: September 1, 2020 | Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy | Format: Paperback ARC | Source: Publisher
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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My Review for Cemetery Boys
✨ You can read an excerpt on Teen Vogue here!
Friends, I absolutely adored this book and its characters; I cannot WAIT for you to be able to read it when it releases on September 1st… it’s coming just in time for your Spooky Season TBRs!
Cemetery Boys is a delightful YA paranormal fantasy debut set during Día de Muertos that features a trans main character, a ghost love interest, gay romance, and brujeria that is bound to capture your heart! Please do yourself a favor and pick up this heartwarming story so you can fall in love with Yadriel, Julian, and Maritza as well!
I absolutely adore the world Thomas created with Cemetery Boys. It’s so fresh and different from what is currently available in the YA market. Urban / paranormal fantasy is such a delight to read because of the fast pace, and I love how Thomas doesn’t sacrifice building up the world or muddy the pacing of the book. He manages to balance descriptions with pace masterfully: I could envision every setting and person and the pacing didn’t suffer for it.
“Spirits had blurry edges and were a little less vibrant than the world around them. They looked like a photograph taken out of focus and with the saturation turned down.”
While the worldbuilding and plot are engaging, where the book shines the most for me is with its characters. I was so invested in their journeys and well-being… almost obsessively so!
Words cannot express how much I love these characters. Each of them has so much life that the book sparks with chemistry. Yadriel’s home feels lived in with the bustle of the multi-generational family ribbing on one another; the cemetery comes alive with the brujx and ghosts going about their lives (and afterlives).
“Just because he said he was a boy, that didn’t change the way Lady Death gave her blessings. They wouldn’t even let him try. It was easier to hide behind their traditions than to challenge their own beliefs and understandings of how things in the world of the brujx worked.”
In this world were the brujx care for the dead, gender places everyone into strict roles where men are brujos and women are brujas. It has always been this way, so Yadriel meets a lot of pushback for going against tradition. I love how fierce and strong Yadriel is despite his struggles being accepted as a trans-boy in a strictly gendered society. He doesn’t let microaggressions lay unchallenged and he has people who support him as he is to help correct people’s language. But Yadriel is not the only one bucking tradition; his cousin Maritza refuses to practice magic as a bruja because she opposes the use of animal blood as the only vegan in their community. I like that Yadriel wasn’t the only “black sheep” in his community and that he wasn’t completely alone without support. his relationship dynamic with Maritza is amazing, and I love how Julian immediately fits into their group. Yadriel just wants to be accepted as he is and takes matters into his hands the way any sixteen-year-old would… and he has a group of people determined to help him.
“Julian was the most alive person he’d ever met. Even as a spirit, we was bright and full of constantly moving energy. A sun crammed into a body.”
Julian is my son and must be protected at all costs! He never shuts up and his lack of understanding being dead is literally iconic. Julian is also fiercely protective of those he loves and I adore how accepting he is of Yadriel from the get-go.
“‘You don’t need permission to be you, Yads.'”
Cemetery Boys is an amazing coming-of-age story. It is honestly such a heartwarming tale with one of the best found families in fiction. Unapologetically Latinx with characters you cannot help but love, this is a story of fighting for change and being comfortable as you are that everyone should read. Aiden Thomas is an author to watch and I look forward to writing whatever he writes next!
Representation: anxiety rep, poverty rep, Latinx rep, m/m romance, trans main character
Content warnings: abuse, gendered roles, internalized classism (challenged), racism, use of deadname (challenged)
ARC provided by the publisher for my honest review. This has not affected my opinions in any way. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon final publication.