Tirado, Vincent

Burn Down, Rise Up

(2) YA In this horror novel grounded in a real-world setting, sixteen-year-old Raquel's life is upended when her friend disappears--part of a pattern of unexplained disappearances--and her mother is hospitalized due to a mysterious illness. Raquel is ­tormented by apparitions that lead her to understand that an evil force, "the Slumlord," is holding and "warping" many of the things she holds dear in a suspended state of reality that can be accessed only through a viral online challenge. As Raquel tries to save her mom, she and her friends risk everything to find answers. Along the way, she begins to understand who she is as a young queer woman and as part of a lineage of ­Dominicans who have stood up to injustice. Tirado's inventive imagination provides a heart-rending parable (including scenes of violence and trauma) that utilizes fantasy and spiritualism to cultivate a deeper understanding of systemic disenfranchisement of Dominican and other ­Afro-Latine immigrant communities. The author (a nonbinary Afro-Latine Bronx native) has personal ­connections that inform the thoughtful, creative depiction of lived experiences that many readers will find relatable. The sounds, smells, spirits, and shadows of the Bronx are vividly portrayed with lively language, making the fantastical seem totally possible.


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