“A perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A winner for all kids, but it will be especially loved by Latinx and Hispanic families.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The Lightning Thief meets the Story Thieves series in this middle grade fantasy inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America.
Charlie Hernández has always been proud of his Latin American heritage. He loves the culture, the art, and especially the myths. Thanks to his abuela’s stories, Charlie possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the monsters and ghouls who have spent the last five hundred years haunting the imaginations of children all across the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Central and South America. And even though his grandmother sometimes hinted that the tales might be more than mere myth, Charlie’s always been a pragmatist. Even barely out of diapers, he knew the stories were just make-believe—nothing more than intricately woven fables meant to keep little kids from misbehaving.
But when Charlie begins to experience freaky bodily manifestations—ones all too similar to those described by his grandma in his favorite legend—he is suddenly swept up in a world where the mythical beings he’s spent his entire life hearing about seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Hispanic folklore and into his life. And even stranger, they seem to know more about him than he knows about himself.
Soon, Charlie finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle between La Liga, a secret society of legendary mythological beings sworn to protect the Land of the Living, and La Mano Peluda (a.k.a. the Hairy Hand), a cabal of evil spirits determined to rule mankind. With only the help of his lifelong crush, Violet Rey, and his grandmother’s stories to guide him, Charlie must navigate a world where monsters and brujas rule and things he couldn’t possibly imagine go bump in the night. That is, if he has any hope of discovering what’s happening to him and saving his missing parents (oh, and maybe even the world).
No pressure, muchacho.
Okay, before you read this review, there are two things you need to know. One—I had to read this book for school. Two—I love books. I prefer less realistic books, such as this one, but can normally enjoy any book as long as it's written well. There's the problem—the execution of this book was terrible.
The first thing I want to talk about is the characters. I didn't care about them at all. I didn't want them to die, but I really wouldn't have cared if they did.
Let's start off with Charlie, the main character. That's honestly the only way I can describe his personality—the main character. You know what I mean by that. He doesn't have any personality except that of a generic protagonist.
Next is Violet, the girl who goes with Charlie as they meet new mythological creatures. She's just smart, nice, and pretty. That's it. That's her personality. And it's not even shown well with her dialogue! She says generic things that anyone could say. The one thing the author did well was showing that Violet was a good detective rather than just telling us through Charlie's thoughts, though it was kind of obnoxious how Charlie kept thinking it every time she said something remotely showing how good of a detective she was.
Charlie's other two friends, one was named Alvin and I don't remember the other guy's name, their personalities were just the word "bro". That's honestly all I need to say about them.
The bully, Alice, was just… oh lord, I was cringing the entire time she existed. She's just the generic bully with a gang of other girls who just pick on random people for no reason. I honestly don't know why the author felt the need to include her, she served literally no actual purpose to the story.
The writing was also very predictable. The author would try to lead you off course by telling you something, but because of how the book was written it was just so obvious that what was told to you wasn't the case. What was extremely frustrating was the fact that I, as a writer, saw so many opportunities for good plot twists that would give the book so much more conflict and ultimately make it a better story, but I knew there was no way the author would go through with them because of how the book was written.
Speaking of plot twists, the plot twist the book actually had wasn't terrible, but (SPOILER) the villain, because the twist was a character that seemed unimportant at the beginning being the true villain, she was just… she was obnoxious and incompetent, and I hated that. Please, authors, PLEASE make competent villains!
(SPOILER OVER) Just overall, this book was really disappointing, because the concept was really cool and I really liked how the myths wove their way into the story, it just kind of felt like a Spanish, worse version of Percy Jackson.
So yeah. I guess that's all I have to say. Just figured I'd write this just to tell people why I hated this book and let them decide for themselves whether everything I mentioned is worth the cool mythology.