Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Series: Paola Santiago #2
Also in this series: , Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on 8/3/21
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Cover Artist: Vanessa Morales
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents the sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed own-voices novel about science-obsessed Paola Santiago.
Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.
Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.
Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?
Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.
This second book in the series explores the fallout from the gang’s misadventures in River of Tears. Things have been weird between Paola and her two best friends since they saved the world together. Paola supported Emma when she came out, but then she felt like they grew apart when Emma started hanging out with a new group of people. And Dante has been avoiding her completely, assumedly because of the moments when they were on their adventure and things started to veer into “not just friends” territory between them. But when Dante’s grandma falls into an unexplainable coma, Paola’s sure it has supernatural origins and that the dreams she’s been having can lead her to the answers. Dante comes with her (begrudgingly) to Oregon, where the dreams seem to be sending Paola, and a new adventure begins, but this time Paola feels like she might as well be all alone.
The book explores themes of changing friendships, budding romance, betrayals, and family mysteries. It also features quite a bit of diversity since there are multiple LGBT characters and most of the main characters are Latinx (the fact that brown kids are looked at with suspicion is brought up in multiple scenes in the book). There’s plenty of action since Paola once again finds herself fighting creatures from the void as she makes her way to her missing father. What she finds is a bit of a surprise, though, and the mystery of Paolo’s dreams and her estranged dad will keep kids turning the pages. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book in the series, especially since one major element of the book ends with a definite cliffhanger!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Tehlor Kay Mejia is an Oregon native in love with the alpine meadows and evergreen forests of her home state, where she lives with her daughter. When she’s not writing, you can find her plucking at her guitar, stealing rosemary sprigs from overgrown gardens, or trying to make the perfect vegan tamale. She is the author of Paola Santiago and the River of Tears and the YA fantasy novels We Set the Dark on Fire and We Unleash the Merciless Storm.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE FOREST OF NIGHTMARES, US Only.
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