Blog Tours, Reviews

BLOG TOUR | REVIEW: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (+Giveaway!) (Xpresso Tours)

Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release date: September 1st, 2020
Page count: 352
Genre: Fantasy
Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Trigger warnings: Transmisia, deadnaming & misgendering, coming out themes, parental abandonment recounted, disownment and child homelessness, blood depiction & use of animal blood for magic and rituals, dead bodies, serious injury of a loved one, grief & loss depiction, death of parents recounted, disappearance of a loved one, murder & attempted murder, knife violence & stabbing, gun violence recounted, police racial discrimination mentioned, car accident mentioned, smoking & alcohol consumption mentioned.

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. 

First of all, thank you so much to Swoon Reads and Xpresso Tours for giving me a free eARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. As always all thoughts stated are my own. You can see the full tour schedule here.

Cemetery Boys tells the story of Yadriel Vélez Flores, a young trans brujo who’s biggest desire is that his family accepts him exactly for who he is: a boy, and a brujo. Since they have denied him the right of having his quinces (the ritual that makes him officially a brujo), he decides to do it himself with the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza. Things don’t go as expected and he ends up summoning the spirit of Julian Díaz, a young boy that just died under mysterious circumstances. Now Yadriel needs to find a way to make Julian cross to the afterlife… but not before finding out what happened to him.

One of the strongest points of this book was its characters. Painfully realistic and oh, so entertaining, the interactions between Yadriel and Julian had me laughing almost all the time, and swooning and crying at some others. They’re one of the cutest, softest couples I’ve read and right away I was invested in their story, both together and individually. And I LOVED to see Julian get sayings and phrases wrong and have Yadriel correct him at all times.

Yadriel is a highly relatable character. He’s moved by his desire to be accepted by his family, but stays true to who he is and won’t let anyone change that. I was so hurt by the behavior of some members of his family. He’s kind of shy and awkward (as most of us were at 16 lol) and the amount of times he blushes on this book is huge. I loved to see his growth throughout the book, discovering his own power and healing some wounds along the way.

Yadriel’s family was… something else. Each member was very different from the other but made a great full picture. We see in Lita (and also Yadriel’s dad Enrique) people that love their families and deep down have the best intentions, but were raised with such strict beliefs that it’s hard for them to open their minds and accept Yadriel as he is. To see these people’s souls grow and do better even when they’ve had their beliefs rooted in them for so long was amazing and inspiring.

Julian’s personality was a pleasant surprise. He’s a very complex character and has many layers to his person. Mischievous, funny and one of those people that just can’t stay put and always need to be doing something, so you can’t take your eyes off him for long or he’ll get in trouble. He’s also very stubborn and lets his feelings take control of his actions. But more than that, what stood out in his character was how caring he was for his loved ones, his intelligence and cleverness, and overall is maturity and inclusiveness. As the book itself says:

“Sometimes, Julian surprised Yadriel by how knowledgeable he was.”

He’s the kind to protect his loved ones with teeth and claws, at whatever cost. And I LOVED how he always tried to show Yadriel his worth and power through his words and some little cute actions that had me swooning.

We also got some side characters that added spark to the story, and my favorite was of course Yadriel’s partner-in-crime Maritza. She’s fierce and will throw hands without thinking twice if you’re hurting someone she loves. I loved her explosive personality and how she was always there for Yadriel. Julian’s friends (Omar, Flaca, Rocky, Luca…) were also amazing and I loved the family trope the author added in the book with them, they were all so protective of each other, being forced to grow up very fast and having anyone else than one another to rely on.

“He was a boy made of fire who’d been turned to frost.”

The story flows smoothly, packed with action that always keeps everything in motion. It was filled with funny moments, but also very serious ones. This is a story that addresses murder, grief and abandonment, along with many other hard topics mentioned in the trigger warnings above. The author made a great job with this, balancing everything so it’s not a story with an excessively intricate plot but a perfect mix of issues that need to be addressed in YA books nowadays.

The Latinx representation was amazing and very diverse, one of the best I’ve had the opportunity to read. I was SO happy when just 2% into the book, my country was mentioned along with its football team. Venezuela is almost never mentioned in the books I read and to see it right there on the page (and having la Vinotinto’s colors on the cover) filled me with joy, so I can’t be more grateful for that.

We also get Mexican, Cuban, Colombian and Puerto Rican characters, and reggaeton everywhere (lol). We see the prejudice towards Colombian people regarding the drug dealing issues in the country, something I haven’t seen in literature until now. But the highlight of the book was the Día de Muertos and mostly Mexican traditions for that holiday, which added to the spooky vibe of the book and had me learning many new things about that particular tradition.

Overall, this is a book about transitions. Into becoming what you were always destined to be, into accepting your loved ones how they are, into letting go the ones that have to go, into a new and better future. The characters, the plot and the message of the book definitely leave their mark in the reader. Thomas did a great job and this is just a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Tour-wide giveaway (US only)

Click here for a chance to win a print copy of Cemetery Boys.

Giveaway ends September 10th.

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.

Find Aiden in his official website, Instagram, Goodreads and Twitter.

That’s all for this post! Have you read Cemetery Boys? What’s your favorite Latinx LGBTQIAP+book?

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6 thoughts on “BLOG TOUR | REVIEW: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (+Giveaway!) (Xpresso Tours)”

  1. Excellent review, Cielo. 🙂 I have seen this book pop up on book blogs and book twitter for the last few weeks. Your review has me convinced to pick up this book. Glad to know you’re happy with the Latinx representation in the book.


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