“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.”

Review by: Ivy

Yadriel grew up in a family of brujx, people blessed with power from Lady Death, and he’s determined to become a brujo and prove his traditional father wrong. When Yadriel tries to help solve a mystery by using his magic for the first time, he accidentally summons his bad-boy classmate Julian. Between fighting for respect from his family and attempting to appease Julian’s spirit, Yadriel uncovers a dark plot that forces him to question who he can trust and whether he’s powerful enough to save the people he loves most.

Cemetery Boys had a deliciously unique set-up, diving into the world of modern brujx like never before, especially in the YA field. The setting felt equal parts spooky and inviting, the author magically making East LA feel like a community I was intimately familiar with. The storyline itself felt very controlled, which kept me focused but unfortunately led to major plot twists not feeling very surprising.

Yadriel as a character was fantastic, the kind of sweet, confident, and powerful trans teen that I love to see in YA novels. The supporting cast of Cemetery Boys was also fantastic, Yadriel’s BFF Maritza giving us a taste of home while Julian’s electric attitude brought realistic emotional conflict. Yadriel’s family was the cherry on top, never getting too much page time but still feeling like real players in the story.

Overall, Cemetery Boys was a fresh, raw, and dynamic adventure wrapped in a diverse and well-paced package. Yadriel is the perfect hero, Julian is the perfect love interest, and Día de Los Muertos was the perfect deadline. Aiden Thomas has written an encouragingly brilliant debut that is pure, magical, queer, glowing joy right down to its core.

Rating: four Hydro Flasks of chicken blood/five

For fans of: The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Order your copy of Cemetery Boys here!