Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

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Annotation: When a powerful desert spirit kidnaps her sister, Cece Rios must learn forbidden magic to get her back, in this own voic... more
Catalog Number: #238927
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 334 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-294755-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8642-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-294755-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8642-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2020937705
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up Cecelia Rios does the unthinkable by freeing a dark criatura from the grips of her village. Criaturas have long plagued the residents of the Tierra del Sol desert. Forewarned by her Mama, Cece knows that criaturas were creatures born from the dust and the words of the Great Namer, which aim to harm humans. Shadowed by betrayal and shame, Cece deems herself weak, believing the town whispers that water smothered her inner fire. But when her sister Juana is kidnapped by the criatura, El Sombreron, Cece grapples with a decision that rivals her Mama's beliefs. Her powerful choice unearths secrets of her family's past and leads Cece down a forbidden path. Confronted with her fears, Cece forms unexpected alliances while battling a foe unlike any criatura: herself. Set against the Tierra del Sol backdrop, intertwined with rich Mexican folklore and culturally infused language, this is a brilliantly unveiled coming-of-age story not for the faint of heart. Rivera cultivates a valiant heroine unafraid to follow her heart and stand against the norm. With a captivating story line and adversaries lurking between the pages, readers will remain engrossed as fantasy mingles with the real world. The engaging plot unravels with twists and turns, keeping readers on edge even after Cece's revelation. VERDICT Courage, determination, and unwavering love are the foundation of this debut; a much-needed addition to public and school libraries. Suraya Jairam, Queens P.L., Hollis, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A tween dabbles in dark magic, hoping to do one good deed.In Tierra del Sol, criaturas are feared and reviled. Some are dark spirits while others, relatively harmless, shape-shift into animals. At 7, Cece wanders too far into the desert and encounters the Criatura of Stars and Devouring, Tzizimitl, who turns out to be more kindly old woman than scary beast. She walks Cece home only to be met with angry, murderous townsfolk. Before Tzizimitl flees, freed by Cece, she observes that Cece has a soul like water—perhaps not what you want as Sun god descendants. Now 12, Cece encounters the Bride Stealer El Sombrerón, another criatura, whose magic guitar bewitches young women. Before Cece can stop him from playing, her sister, Juana, is entranced by his song and kidnapped. Her family mourns, but Cece is determined to get Juana back—but she’ll have to enter the Bruja Fights for aspiring dark witches to get into Devil’s Alley, where El Sombrerón lives. There’s the small problem of her not wanting to actually be a dark witch, but she’ll just fake it and no one will be the wiser, right? Set in a fantasy world filled with figures from Aztec mythology, this culturally rich adventure weaves Spanish and Nahuatl throughout the text. With strong ties to Mesoamerican lore and culture, the story hits the sweet spot between dark and light.Lively, endearing, and full of character. (glossary) (Fantasy. 8-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Cece Rios has long known that she's different from the other residents of Tierra del Sol, and that difference couldn't be made more clear than it is in the contrast between herself and her beloved older sister, Juana. Juana is fierce and courageous, happily taking part in the town's rituals to protect itself from the terrifying criaturas that have haunted the residents for centuries. On the other hand, Cece is gentle and merciful, and the other residents have looked upon her with suspicion ever since she helped a misunderstood criatura escape their wrath. After a reckless moment leads to Juana's capture by El Sombrerón, one of the most feared criaturas, Cece becomes determined to bring her home, gathering all her courage to navigate a desert of supernatural wonders th the help of some surprising new allies who all have secrets of their own. Rivera's spellbinding debut feels incredibly fresh, offering a thrilling introduction to the world of Mexican American legends while easily weaving Spanish phrases and vocabulary into the vibrant text. Cece immediately feels like a friend, and it's gratifying to watch her grow in grit while proving again and again that kindness is an enormous asset, not a liability. Enchanted readers will hope for more from Cece and her extraordinary, magical world.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (2/1/21)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (2/1/21)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7

When a powerful desert spirit kidnaps her sister, Cece Rios must learn forbidden magic to get her back, in this own voices middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of The Storm Runner and Aru Shah and the End of Time. Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family's disapproval. After all, 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, 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.

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