Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous—especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits break free from their home in Devil’s Alley to threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas who roamed the desert, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, it’s common knowledge that only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.
When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, everyone in town believes she’s lost forever. But Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans, and agrees to help her on her journey. With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.
CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS is quite a ride–mythical creatures, witches, and souls. The adventure starts when Cece (Ceci for those of us who are native Spanish speakers) and her sister Juana cross the town’s limits, where El Sombrerón surprises them and kidnaps Juana. His purpose? Wed her. Or eat her soul. Or who knows what! One thing is for sure, Mr. Big Hat will do something baaaaaaaaad to Juana if Cece doesn’t act up fast.
So, Cece allies with Coyote and some other mythical creatures, and embarks in an adventure of discovery AND self-discovery. Problem is, only brujas (witches) can enter Devil’s Alley (El Callejón del Diablo), where El Sombrerón reigns and roams about.
What piqued my interest is the use of Mexican and Mexican-American mythology I’d never head of in the 30+ years I lived in Mexico, so this part caught my attention in a good way.
Nevertheless, CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS is an engaging read with twists and turns and whatnot. Excellent world building, great mystery, and tons of action.
4.5 out of 5 stars!