He’s not the “chosen one”—but the bad guys think he is.
Mexican-born, American-raised Charlie Hernández just grew horns. And feathers. It’s inconvenient. He’s already feeling alone since his parents disappeared after their South Florida house burned down and he started living with Mrs. Wilson, an older woman who collects creepy-looking dolls. When the very cute, very cool Violet Rey discovers his secret, she becomes his unlikely companion as Charlie discovers a map inside an old locket, all he has left from his mother, that leads to a cemetery. All of a sudden, all the Hispanic (both Latin American and Iberian) myths he learned from his abuela leave the world of legend and reveal themselves in Miami—and everyone, good and bad, seems to be after Charlie. Legend and Catholicism mix to form a fantasy adventure that feels authentically Latin American in its syncretism. Charlie is smart, sensitive, and funny, and the characters he encounters, from La Llorona (Mexican-American) to El Sombrerón (Guatemalan) to La Cuca (Brazilian), are both consistent with their folkloric roots and distinctive in their own rights. Words in Spanish are introduced in italics and printed in Roman text thereafter, and Charlie naturally code switches when talking to the villains and heroes and translating for Violet. (Though her surname indicates possible Latinx heritage, she presents white and speaks no Spanish.) The ending very obviously hints at a sequel with a new adventure, but it does fully wrap up the story.
A winner for all kids, but it will be especially beloved by Latinx and Hispanic families who may recognize some of the characters. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)