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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys is a joyful romantic fantasy of self discovery and affirmation. The driving action is admittedly grim, as Yadriel hunts for the missing body of his murdered cousin and tries to solve the mysterious death of an untethered spirit, Julian. But in this darkness the characters find room for joy and love in a natural, human narrative. Even as we know what's coming we can watch the development of relationships with interest and emotional investment. And yes, we know what's coming: the novel broadcasts loudly, and the plot is entirely predictable. But this doesn't make it less entertaining; just as one finds comfort in familiar tropes, the reader can take joy in watching the fantasy develop just as we hope.

Thematically, I love the work that Thomas has done. Yadriel's culture is far different from my own, and one deeply invested in faith, religion, and tradition. Such spaces are notoriously critical of nonnormative identities (to purposefully put it mildly. I have ... very strong views). Yadriel values his faith, family, and traditions, even as they deny him space as a trans man. Although he shouldn't have to, Yadriel fights to show his community that he does belong despite their lack of understanding, and in his actions makes space for any others who come after him. This is a queer wish-fulfillment fantasy, and one I want to see fulfilled for queer people everywhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

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