Spooky and fun, with substance as well.

WITCH FOR HIRE

Witches face many obstacles in life: fear, prejudice, and sitting at the unpopular table in high school are just a few.

Witches aren’t part of the A squad, as new high schooler Cody learns when her popular upperclassman sister, Bryce, dismisses her to the cafeteria table that is a lunchroom waystation for people who haven’t yet found their place in the social hierarchy. It’s there she meets Faye, the table’s only permanent resident and the school’s resident witch. Cody’s desire to move on brings her into digital contact with shy_shelbi, a social media account that promises to make your dreams come true. Most of those dreams, however, turn out to be nightmares, and it’s up to Faye to begrudgingly save her classmates’ lives. Faye is a mysterious character who brings a lot of baggage with her, some of which is addressed in the book and some of which is hopefully being saved for future stories. The ending hints at a new path for the young witch, and readers who identify with feeling a little out of place in school or life will be begging to learn when the adventure continues. Many will appreciate the messages centered around popularity, acceptance, self-confidence, and the influence of social media. The expressive artwork enhances the mood through heavy use of black and shades of glowing orange and atmospheric teal. Main characters are White-presenting; there is diversity in the background cast.

Spooky and fun, with substance as well. (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4810-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An inspiring, powerful tale of belonging.

CAZADORA

From the Wolves of No World series , Vol. 2

The follow-up to Lobizona (2020) sees its protagonist’s fight for equality and acceptance reach new heights.

After the events of the first book, Manu and her friends flee their magical school and are on the run to avoid the Cazadores who aim to capture anyone who doesn’t conform to the stringent gender binary laws of their world. Manu, as the first ever known female werewolf and a Septimus/human hybrid to boot, could lose her life if she’s discovered. Illegal in both worlds, Manu’s only chance is to find the Coven, a legendary underground movement of outcasts who she hopes will welcome them with open arms. Once she meets the people of the Coven, Manu encounters a world full of Septimus who are willing to risk anything for change. But how far is Manu willing to go? In this effervescent sequel full of magic and beautiful imagery, Manu learns to reclaim her own narrative and, together with her lovable found family, including misfits Saysa and Cata as well as boyfriend Tiago, stake out a place in the world where she belongs. Refreshingly, Manu and her friends are not presented as uniquely positioned to change the world: They join a multigenerational, ongoing fight against oppression that aims to give voice to the nonconforming voiceless. All characters are Argentine, with a variety of skin tones, gender identities, and sexualities.

An inspiring, powerful tale of belonging. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23915-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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