Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. This tour is being hosted by xpresso tours.
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.
Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, Harry Potter trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.
I’m not sure what I loved most in this book. The relationship? The family? The friends? The information about Dia de Muertos? The California setting? There was just so much to love about this book. I know people hate instalove, but this quick relationship was perfect and it felt real.
Yadriel and his family are brujx. When they turn fifteen, they present them for Lady Death to bless them with power. The brujas can heal with magic. The brujos can cut the ties between a lost spirit and the item they’re connected to. There is a gold thread that is cut. Yadriel is a brujo, but there weren’t many people who believed him. His mom accepted him right away, but she’s been gone a year and his dad keeps putting off the quinces, not letting Yadriel be the brujo he was born to be. They were getting ready for Dia de Muertos and everyone was busy preparing. Yadriel and his cousin, Maritza, decide to see if Yadriel could perform the quinces himself. When Lady Death gave him blessing and power in his conduit, Yadriel thought he could finally prove to everyone that he was a true brujo.
Miguel was missing and the brujx felt him die, but they couldn’t find his body. Yadriel decides that he and Maritza could summon his spirit. They found a necklace and Yadriel thought he could have been tethered to something other than his portaje. He performed the ceremony and a spirit showed up. It wasn’t Miguel. Instead, it was a young boy that was tethered to the necklace. The boy, Julien, went to school with Yadriel and Maritza. He was known as the bad boy after so many rumors about him and his family. While Julien has his brother, it was his friends he thought about. After Yadriel couldn’t cut the ties, they figured it was because Julien was unwilling. He couldn’t remember what happened to him, but he remembered before. Reluctantly, Yadriel agreed to help Julian check on his friends and then Julien would willingly let Yadriel cut the tether.
Julien was so opposite of Yadriel. He talked so much and was so happy and hyper. He loved noise and being around people. It takes awhile to find Julien’s friends. During this time, Yadriel and Julien were getting to know each other. It continued even after he saw his friends. Yadriel didn’t want Julien to leave at all, even when he was ready. The relationship was fast, but it also felt like it grew slowly. Yadriel knew everything that made Julien, Julien. He has him doing things he never would have done before. Julien brought new life to Yadriel, even while he was dead.
The bit of mystery was pretty obvious early on, but I loved everything leading up to the reveal. This book was about death, power, and family. But it was mostly a story of love. I loved all the laxtinx culture and traditions. Dia de Muertos is so much more of what so many people in the US think it is. The sugar skulls had meaning and played an important part of the ceremony. They weren’t decoration (I’ve been guilty of buying them). I think there is so much to learn about latinx culture along with what it means to be trans and how hard it is to get people to accept you.
I gave this book 5 stars. Thank you to Swoon Reads for my review copy.
Maritza bumped her shoulder into Yadriel’s. “We’ll figure it out; don’t worry so much,” she told him.
“It’s like you don’t even know me.”
“Like, is this Lady deciding who counts as a man and who counts as a woman? What about nonbinary people? Or intersex? Or agender?”
Julian was the most alive person he’d ever met. Even as a spirit, he was bright and full of constantly moving energy. A sun crammed into the body of a boy. Yadriel didn’t want to see him without his light.
Julian was achingly beautiful, but in a way a thunderstorm was beautiful-wild, rough, electric.
And bound to leave devastation in his wake.