My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In full disclosure I did receive a copy of this from the author with the caveat, I am as slow AF when it comes to reading ebooks (I did not lie). I love horror and I know this is probably one of the hardest sell in the LGBT genre. The authors did a fantastic job in depicting the horror elements without being overly gory or leaning to hard on the shock value crutch.
Our point of view character through most of this is Joseph Moore, choir director for the First Baptist Church of Lenora, Nebraska has his share of problems. Being a gay Baptist choir director in a small midwest town is just one of them. Joseph can see ghosts, something that terrifies him. Just as he is starting to get his life on track with a new love, something has come looking for him, something with dark and ugly powers that will change Joseph's world.
Years later, Joseph finds himself in his comfortable, or not so comfortable, rut, taking care of his aged father but bottled up inside himself. The demon has returned and this time Joseph along with some surprising allies have to stop it.
Joseph's fears and loves are very believable and he is a compelling character as are his allies and lovers. There is a real midwest feel to this and the horror is done well without being over the top. Shout outs to past novels by the authors are peppered through like fun little Easter eggs and I really enjoyed that.
I'd love to see more from them along this line.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had been really looking forward to this one which got pushed back because of the pandemic. Yadriel "Yads" is an instantly engaging, fascinating character (who shares a lot with his creator, both being Latinx transmen). Yads's life is a great lens to look at the issues facing trans people today. Yadriel's family are brujx, a Latin form of magic use and in this story very gendered (Yads even mentions that Spanish itself is a highly gendered language), Brujas are healers and the ladies have a portaje, a focal point for their magic, which are rosarsies. Brujos talk to/manage the spirits of the dead, especially those who turn using their dagger focal point.
Yadriel was of course expected to be a Bruja but Yads knows what he is: a brujo. To prove his point, his cousin, Maritza, who won't access her own power for reasons, helps him. Convinced Lady Death has accepted him, Yads tries to summon the spirit of his recently dead and missing cousin Miguel only he ends up with a classmate, also very recently dead.
Julien wasn't friends with Yads or Maritza but Yads feels obligated to help Julien, something that seems like a burden. Julien's death is a mystery that needs to be solved. And we get to watch these two disasters learn about each other and what happens after (yes, there is a sort of romantic subplot) because Julien's death is hooked into a bigger mystery and one that must be solved before more people died.
Julien, Marizta and Yads are just wonderfully well drawn characters. Even minor characters like Julien's friends, especially Luca, are fully realized. You care what happens to them. Even once I learned what Yads's grandmother was looking for, I knew how it would go and how it would end (I was dead on) but that didn't matter because it's an amazingly fun ride. You care about these characters.
Yads is an interesting gateway into the life of a trans man. You care about whether or not his family will accept him for who he really is which is all he truly wants. Maritza is just so much fun. Julien too. Heck I hope there's another story because I want to know what comes next (especially for poor little Luca!) This is one of the best books I've read all year.
View all my reviews