Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows [Book Review 9]

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Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo (2018)

This book review is on book 1 of the Charlie Hernández series by Ryan Calejo.

Summary: After Charlie’s family mysteriously disappears, he begins to morph into the supernatural creatures like the myths in his abuela’s stories. He discovers he is in the middle of an ancient war between La Liga and La Mano Peluda. With the help of his friend, Charlie goes on a quest to save himself, his parents, and the world.

What I Enjoyed

➡️ The Voice: if there were a mashup between an encyclopedia, a monster manual, and a Latino middle schooler—Charlie would be it. He is knowledgeable, vulnerable and has a flair for fantastic metaphors.
➡️ The World: Charlie’s everyday work (chancletas, condensed milk, avoiding standing out in middle school) is as rich as the visits to graveyards and mystical lands.
➡️ The Heart: The stakes are more intimate than the world will end; the pulse of the story is around family, friends, and finding your place (albeit in a supernatural realm).

Mentor Text Moments

  • Pacing: what a well-paced adventure mystery! Phenomenal chapter endings. Follow the clues, but beware, some are red herrings.
  • Cast of Characters: so many myths, but the large cast is handled well. They sound unique and have memorable voices. Charlie’s whole narrative view is infused with Latino culture.
  • Contrast: even though Charlie is the titular character, this story depends upon his contrasted relationship with Violet. They are Watson and Holmes as middle schoolers, and just as you imagine, plenty can go wrong.

Want more? Check out my in-depth interview with Ryan.


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