“Cemetery Boys” is the Gender-Affirming Paranormal Romance We All Need

A young trans boy named Yadriel is determined to prove himself as a brujo to his deeply traditional brujx family and community, but they will not allow him to perform the rights of passage, because they worry it “might not work as intended.” When his cousin is murdered, Yadriel takes matters into his own hands and decides to perform the ritual himself so that he can summon his cousin’s spirit and find out what happened. However, he ends up summoning the wrong spirit and ends up with the school’s resident bad boy, Julian Diaz, who has no intention of going quietly into the afterlife and fully intends to drag Yadriel into his unfinished business.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Published by SwoonReads on September 1st, 2020

Genre(s): Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, LGBT, Own Voices, Mystery, Trans Fiction

Potential Triggers: Misgendering, allusions to dead-naming (without using dead name), depictions of gender dysphoria, exploration of parental death, some violence, non-violent references to blood magic

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If spirit-summoning-gone-wrong and a young trans brujo accidentally falling for a ghost boy isn’t a big enough draw for you, let me just say that “Cemetery Boys” is a wildly tender, wildly fun story that perfectly balances romance, mystery, adventure, magic, and friendship. It’s a story about claiming your own power and finding truth in what matters to you.

As a queer and trans Latinx person myself, I saw so much of my own story reflected in “Cemetery Boys.” It’s not every day that we see a trans character who hasn’t undergone Hormone Replacement Therapy or who hasn’t had any gender affirming surgeries, but who is absolutely no less trans. Yadriel has socially transitioned, better aligned his gender presentation, and he wears a binder. While these details are not the focus of the story, they’re very much present. What’s more, Yadriel’s experience of transness is inherently impacted by his Latinx culture, especially when it comes to navigating gendered terms in Spanish and making space for himself within ironclad Latinx traditions, which are often deeply gendered as well.

It’s also incredible to see a story that contains a gender-affirming magic system. Yadriel’s journey shows us that magic could never exist within the confines and constraints of the world as we know it and that only we get to decide how to wield our own power. His relationship with Julian also challenges him to claim ownership over that power for himself on his own terms, not only so he can figure out how to help Julian, but so he can recognize that the validation he truly seeks has to come from within.

“Cemetery Boys” contains the most vibrant, beautiful characters, a vivid magic system, and a wonderful Latinx brujx community. Absolutely everyone should be anticipating its September release!

Adri (they/them) is a queer, trans, and non-binary Mexican-American book reviewer. They’ve been creating BookTube content for over six years on perpetualpages and remain interested in creating content that celebrates and centers marginalized voices, intersectional viewpoints, and inclusive ideologies. When they’re not re-watching RWBY or Avatar: The Last Airbender, they can be found writing, laughing out loud while listening to podcasts in public, playing video games, and wearing geeky graphic tees to telegraph their interests to other people.

You can find them on their Youtube channel, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram as @_perpetualpages_.

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