If you grew up in a Latinx family, chances are you’ve been to plenty of big family parties where the grown-ups laugh and gossip, the kids scream and play, and the teens whisper as they contemplate being pulled in either direction—stuck somewhere in-between. But when the elders begin telling stories, you can be sure everyone gathers around to listen…especially for the scary stories! Our Shadows Have Claws captures this time-honored storytelling tradition and takes you on a journey across the Americas as you encounter cagueiros (shapeshifters), duendes (goblins), ciguapas (river women with backwards feet), frios (vampires), Tukakame (a death god), and so many other spine-chilling creatures. This book evoked many of the same feelings as those spooky stories at Latinx family parties; a profound sense of pride, hair-raising terror, and most importantly, a feeling of coming home…even if that home is your abuelita’s haunted casita.
Thank you, Tiffany D. Jackson! This is the makeover that Stephen King’s novel Carrie has desperately needed! You could say it’s impossible to find a horror fan who isn’t familiar with the story of Carrie—a severely abused and ostracized teen who discovers that she has the ability to move objects with the power of her mind. The Weight of Blood takes that familiar story and explores what would unfold for our protagonist, Maddy, if we consider the intersections of race, gender, and class while she is in the clutches of an abusive father and abusive peers. Maddy Washington does her best to push forward, weather the pain, and heal her trauma—she just wants to live a “normal” life. But when vengeful and racist classmates take things too far at prom, Maddy teaches the whole town a valuable lesson that echoed in my mind after turning the last page…f*ck around and find out.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” meets “I Am Legend”, but teen and queer as fuck. “Hell Followed With Us” tells the story of Benji, a trans boy surviving a post-apocalyptic world following a biological terrorist attack by an evangelical extremist group—the Angelic Movement. After being forcibly injected with the Flood virus, Benji escapes the oppressive confines of New Nazareth (the movement’s stronghold) to find family among a group of LGBTQ+ teen outcasts who love and honor him as his authentic self. But Benji is transforming, both figuratively and literally, thanks to the experiment his oppressors have made of him. So, they want him to be a monster for the end of days? He’ll give them a monster they’ll never forget.
Brenda Lozano’s “Witches” is an exploration of the lives of two women—a journalist and a curandera—and how their lived experiences have many parallels, despite being from two seemingly different worlds. “Witches” is the story of the interpersonal and systemic violence that cis, trans, and queer women continue to endure and how these individuals persist through healing and resistance. Alternating perspective across chapters, what begins as a story told in interview form quickly turns into a conversation—a platica, a traditional healing tool of curanderismo—that allows us to witness the two women leaning on one another as they reckon with the pain and trauma that they have survived, as well as the warriors they have always been.
Ella Durand is preparing to attend the Arcanum Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors and she is the first Conjuror ever to do so. As she embarks on her new educational journey in the clouds as a Marveller, she is faced with the challenge of carving out a space for herself amongst a magical community that misunderstands and condemns her for her family’s and community’s connection to the underworld. In this marvelous tale of magic and mystery, Ella is forced to consider what it means to work both in the light and in the shadows, all while attempting to fight off the evil forces threatening the worlds and people she loves. The Marvellers is a magical and otherworldly deep dive into the deeply human experience of existing in and traversing the borderlands of identity and, ultimately, honoring every part of your true self.