Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Publication Date: September 1, 2020 by Swoon Reads
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Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I don’t remember where I first read or heard about this book, but as soon as I learned about it I knew I needed to read it. Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel as he tries to prove to his family that he’s a brujo, and in the process accidentally conjures up the spirit of a dead classmate, who he falls in love with.
“Things weren’t magically fixed by an empowering speech, but it opened doors and built bridges. It carved out space for Yadriel to step forward and be who he was, as he was. There were still more obstacles to overcome and battles to fight, but Yadriel wouldn’t feel alone in it anymore.”
I loved this book! The premise and setting are so fun. Cemetery Boys takes place around Dia de los Muertos, so there’s a lot of festivities and food discussed throughout the book (which made me super hungry). The story starts with Yadriel conducting his own quinces with his cousin Martiza because his family doesn’t think he can have one, and in the process of proving himself to his family, accidentally conjures up the spirit of Julian, a dead classmate.
The story follows Yadriel, Maritza, and Julian as they try to figure out what happened to Julian and why his ghost showed up when they were trying to conjure Yads and Martiza’s cousin. Cemetery Boys is so fast paced, the characters only have a few days until Dia de los Muertos and need to figure out what happened to Julian and their cousin before then.
Cemetery Boys has a lot going on. There are discussion on, deportation, homelessness, misgendering, and family issues but they were all handled so well, in depth, and given enough page time. I love that we’re finally at the place where reading stories about LGBTQ+ individuals isn’t just about their struggles anymore, we’re finally seeing LGBTQ+ characters in every type of story. Even though Yadriel does deal with misgendering and deadnaming from his family, this is not the premise of the story, this is a fantasy/romance/mystery. As the story starts Yadriel is 100% sure of who he is, but he’s struggling with trying to find the balance between being respectful towards his family and traditions and standing up for himself and calling them out.
Yadriel was always forgiving people for being callous. For misgendering him and calling him by his deadname. He was always giving them the benefit of the doubt, or writing it off as people not understanding, or being stuck in their ways when they were hurtful. Well Yadriel was tired of it. He was tired of forgiving. He was tired of fighting to just exist and be himself. He was tired of being the odd one out.
Even though the story is from Yadriel’s perspective, Julian and Maritza are big characters who were just as amazing. Julian is so snarky and energetic and funny and I love it. I laughed so hard when Yadriel wakes up and sees what a mess Julian made because he doesn’t sleep as a ghost and was bored. Martiza is also great, like others in her family she’s also a bruja, but she’s vegan so she doesn’t practice since she refuses to use animal blood. She’s also one of Yadriel’s biggest supporters and always has his back.
I loved Yadriel and Julian as a couple, but I wish we got to see their relationship progress more on page. Yadriel blushes and stares at Julian a couple time throughout the story, but I wish we had a little more insight on how Yadriel’s feelings towards Julian change throughout the book.
Overall this was a great book, and I cannot wait to read more from Aiden Thomas (I also wouldn’t mind more stories set in this world with these characters). If you haven’t read Cemetery Boys yet I highly recommend you pick it up!