My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reposted from my review on Kidliterati.
Charlie Hernandez’s parents are gone. While waiting at child services for placement, he discovers tiny horns sprouting from his head and recalls the stories his abuela told him night after night, especially those about the Morphling, the myth about a young hero who always defeats his nemesis—an evil twice-cursed witch—by manifesting some kind of an animal trait.
But those were just made up stories.
No longer sleeping at the police station, he’s placed temporarily with the elderly doll collector, Mrs. Wilson, and just when life begins to feel normal again, feathers sprout up all over his body—at middle school! Thinking fast, Charlie ditches into the office and finds a long-sleeve sparkly snow jacket in the lost and found. Wearing a ski jacket during the afternoon in Miami shouldn’t bring any unwanted attention.
Then he runs into Alice-the-Terrible, 6-foot-tall-fastball-crushing all-state softball player—and she wants the locket he’s wearing. The one thing he has left of his mother’s.
Not while Violet Rey is around—super-sleuth-school-newspaper-reporter—with the megawatt smile stops Alice in her tracks. The same girl he’s crushed on since first grade. Turns out, Violet has admired Charlie’s father, the animal geneticist, ever since his presentation on the harm in breeding dogs, she even used it for the school paper. Violet is very curious about his mother’s locket and knows it’s an antique (her father owns a pawn shop). Is there anything Violet doesn’t know? But it’s locked and Charlie’s unable to open it. Violet has a look and it clicks open in seconds. Inside, they find a miniature map, with the same horns and feather insignia Charlie sees everywhere.
Together, they make an unlikely team, and go underground with the tiny map, in search of answers to where Charlie’s parents are, and they come face to face with supernatural villains, myths and folklore from all over the Spanish-speaking world.
Conversations with a calaca, and La Llorona, the weeping woman, after following the glowing orbs of La Luz Mala, deep into the woods, among many others. Charlie discovers the stories his abuela told him were true. Was she preparing him?
An exciting, fast-paced Middle Grade adventure! With friends standing up for each other and working together. I loved Violet’s character and the skills she has when they’re needed and Charlie’s self-deprecating humor. Rich in cultural mythology, and so much fun! For further study of these fascinating tales, the glossary of Spanish folklore is a good starting point. Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, or anyone who loves magic, adventure, and tracking down a mystery.
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