Cemetery Boys

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A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Praise for Cemetery Boys:
Longlisted for the National Book Award

“The novel perfectly balances the vibrant, energetic Latinx culture while delving into heavy topics like LGBTQ+ acceptance, deportation, colonization, and racism within authoritative establishments.” –TeenVogue.com

“This stunning debut novel from Thomas is detailed, heart-rending, and immensely romantic. I was bawling by the end of it, but not from sadness: I just felt so incredibly happy that this queer Latinx adventure will get to be read by other kids. Cemetery Boys is necessary: for trans kids, for queer kids, for those in the Latinx community who need to see themselves on the page. Don’t miss this book.” –Mark Oshiro, author of Anger is a Gift



Chapter TWO


Chapter THREE


Chapter FOUR


Chapter FIVE


Chapter SIX


Chapter SEVEN


Chapter EIGHT


Chapter NINE


Chapter TEN


Chapter ELEVEN


Chapter TWELVE
















Chapter TWENTY














Cemetery Boys


Something sinister waits within the trees …

When children start to go missing in the local woods, Wendy must face her fears and a past she can’t remember to rescue them in Aiden Thomas’s next atmospheric YA novel.


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Chapter ONE



Falling Stars

As Wendy Darling pushed through the door, all conversation died and every eye focused on her. As she stood there, files stacked in her arms, the whispers started in hushed tones. The hairs on the back of Wendy’s neck prickled. As a lowly volunteer at the only hospital in town, Wendy had spent her day in the basement copying files. That part of the job was boring, but Wendy wanted to become a nurse. It probably wasn’t the ideal way for the average teenager to spend their eighteenth birthday, but Wendy wanted to lie low and avoid attention.

And she was failing spectacularly.

The nurses’ station was packed with people in scrubs and officers in uniforms, and they all watched Wendy as she hesitated in the doorway, trying to not drop her stack of papers.

Her sweaty hands were making the plastic folders harder to hold onto, so, even though her nerves told her to get out of there, Wendy hurriedly crossed the room and dumped them behind the desk. Curious eyes and the incoherent crackling of police officers’ radios followed her.

“Lord, did you finish already?” Wendy started at the sudden appearance of Nurse Judy at her elbow.

“Uh—yeah.” Wendy took a quick step back and dragged her hands through her short, blunt haircut. Nurse Judy was a small woman with a large presence, dressed in Snoopy scrubs. She had a booming voice that was perfect for talking over the sound of busy waiting rooms and a loud, unabashed laugh that was often used while teasing doctors.

“Dang, girl! You’re making the rest of us look bad!” She took no nonsense and usually spoke her mind, which was why her tight-lipped smile and fidgeting hands made Wendy’s stomach twist.

Wendy forced a small laugh that quickly died in her throat. Standing behind Nurse Judy, on the other side of the U-shaped nursing desk, was Officer Smith. The pale fluorescent lights bounced off his bald head and he stood with his chest puffed out and his thumbs tucked into the straps of his Kevlar vest. He stared at Wendy, mouth in a straight line as his square jaw worked on a piece of gum. No matter what time of year it was, Officer Smith always had a sunglasses tan framing his sharp eyes. He had a way of looking at you that made you feel guilty, even if you hadn’t done anything wrong. It was a look that Wendy had been on the receiving end of many times over the past five years.

“Wendy.” Her name always sounded gruff coming from him, like he was annoyed at the mere mention of her.

Wendy’s head bobbed in an uncomfortable greeting. She wanted to ask what was going on, but the way everyone kept looking at her—

“There you are!” A sharp yank on Wendy’s arm had her spinning around to Jordan’s beaming face. “I was looking everywhere for you!” she said. Jordan Arroyo had been Wendy’s best friend since middle school. If Wendy did anything outside her comfort zone, it was because Jordan was there cheering—and sometimes pushing—her along. It was Jordan who had talked her into applying to big-name colleges, and rejoiced with screaming and dancing when they both got into the University of Oregon. When Wendy worried that it was too far from Astoria and her parents, Jordan promised they’d make the four-hour drive back home together whenever Wendy wanted.

Wendy felt a small bit of relief. “I—”

“Are you done for the day?” Jordan’s dark eyes cut to the stack of files. She was tall with warm brown skin that never broke out and had dark hair that framed her face in tight curls which was currently tied back in a ponytail.


“Great!” Before Wendy could object, Jordan snatched up their bags with one hand and pulled Wendy down the hall with the other. “Let’s go!” Wendy half expected one of the three police officers to stop her, but even though they watched the two as they left—especially Officer Smith—no one said anything.

When the door closed behind them and they were alone in the hall, Wendy sucked in a deep breath. “What was that all about?” she asked, glancing quickly over her shoulder to see if anyone was going to follow them.

“What was what?” said Jordan.

Wendy had to take quick steps to keep up with Jordan’s long, determined strides. “The cops and everyone.”

“Pft, who knows!” Jordan said with a jerky shrug as she punched the code on the door to the nurses’ break room.

Wendy frowned. Jordan never missed a chance for gossip. Any time anything interesting happened in the hospital—like a local boy shooting off his friend’s toe when they were illegally hunting in the woods or a doctor making one of the medical assistants cry—Jordan was all over it. She bounced from person to person, poking for details and prodding for information, before finding Wendy and divulging everything she found out.

She was hiding something.

“Hey, hold on,” Wendy said as tension clawed into her shoulders.

“Sit!” Jordan pushed her into a seat at the lopsided round table littered with paper plates and leftover takeout utensils. “Okay, I know you don’t like celebrating your birthday—” Jordan blew through the room, snatching a pair of plastic forks and grabbing a Tupperware container from the old fridge. “But you’re turning eighteen! So, I had to do something.”


“I made your favorite!” Jordan didn’t so much as look up as her hands fumbled to get the Tupperware lid off. “See?” The smile on Jordan’s face was shaky at best as she busied herself with placing a yellow cupcake on a small plate in front of Wendy. The dollop of chocolate frosting was melting down the side of the paper. “It didn’t come out quite right, but you know I suck at baking.”

Wendy’s heart drummed in her throat. Why wouldn’t Jordan look at her? “Jordan.”

“But my dad ate, like, three and hasn’t showed up at the emergency room,” Jordan mused as she stuck a purple candle into the cupcake and lit it with a yellow lighter. “So it can’t be that bad!”

Jordan,” Wendy pressed insistently.

Jordan pushed the cupcake at Wendy, her wide smile looking more like a grimace. “Make a wish!”

“JORDAN!” Jordan cringed and even Wendy jumped at the loudness of her own voice. Finally, Jordan glanced up, her eyebrows tipped and lips pressed between her teeth. “What’s going on?” Wendy repeated, her words much more uneven now as she leaned forward. The heat of the candle brushed her chin. “Why are there so many cops here? What happened?”

When Jordan spoke, her voice was gentle. “Ashley Ford went missing.”

It was like a giant hand pressed all of the air from Wendy’s lungs. “Missing?” Automatically, Wendy pulled out her phone. She hadn’t received an AMBER Alert, but the file room was concrete and got no cell phone reception.

“Earlier today,” Jordan continued. She watched Wendy carefully as she spoke.

The room tilted. Wendy gripped the edge of the table with sweaty palms to steady herself. “But I just saw her this morning.”

“Apparently, she was playing in the front yard. Her mom walked inside to get something, and when she walked back out, Ashley was gone.”

Wendy knew Ashley well. When she wasn’t doing paperwork, Wendy spent most of her time at the hospital in the pediatric clinic reading to kids or leading arts and crafts. Mrs. Ford was a patient at the hospital who regularly needed dialysis treatment, and when she had appointments, she left Ashley in the children’s room with Wendy. Ashley was only eight years old, but she was smart and had an encyclopedic knowledge of trees. Just that morning, Ashley had been sitting on an oversized bean bag chair that practically swallowed up her petite form, rattling off the names of the trees she could see from the large windows.

“They can’t find her?” Wendy asked. Jordan shook her head. No wonder everyone had been staring at her. “And Benjamin Lane?”

“They haven’t found him yet, either.” Jordan chewed on her bottom lip as she watched Wendy. “That makes two missing kids in the past twenty-four hours, but they’ve got loads of people looking,” Jordan rushed to add, but her voice was muffled, like Wendy was listening to her underwater. “That’s why the cops are here—asking folks who saw her last if they noticed anything suspicious…” Jordan trailed off, but Wendy knew what she was thinking.

Wendy’s head swam. Benjamin Lane was a local boy who had gone missing yesterday afternoon. He was only ten years old, but he had a rebellious streak. Benjamin had run away from home once before, and everyone seemed to assume he was hiding out at a friend’s house. It was an easy explanation that everyone in town was quick to accept, tutting about bad parenting and “kids these days.”

Because in Astoria, Oregon, crime was practically nonexistent. Especially the sinister sort. Especially missing children. Except, of course …

Wendy’s shoulders sank. “My brothers.” Wendy swallowed hard. “Do they think—?”

Jordan shook her head vigorously and squeezed Wendy’s shoulder. “There’s no way this has anything to do with you. She probably just wandered off to a friend’s house or something. Or they’ll find her perfectly fine at a playground,” she said, trying to sound certain, but it wasn’t working on Wendy.

Dread settled over her at the thought of being questioned by the police again. At the idea of Ashley being lost and alone, or something even worse.

Wendy dropped her forehead into her hands, but pain suddenly seared across her chin. She lurched back from the candle flame with a hiss.

Jordan quickly blew it out. Purple wax dripped over chocolate. Cursing under her breath, Jordan quickly ran a brown paper towel under water from the sink and handed it to Wendy. “Are you okay?”

Wendy pressed the cool paper towel to the small welt forming on her chin. “Yeah.” She winced. “It’s just a little burn.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Jordan said.

Wendy avoided her gaze. “I want to go home.”

Heads turned to follow them through the lobby and out the main door. Jordan filled Wendy’s silence, recounting her harrowing adventures in baking the cupcakes and how the first batch had somehow come out even more liquidy than before she’d put them into the oven.

In the parking lot, the sun had just set below the jagged ridge of tree-lined hills to the west. Wendy eyed the lingering rays of sun drenching the distant woods in a deep shade of maroon as Jordan walked her to her truck. She hadn’t meant to stay this late. Being in the windowless basement for so many hours made her lose track of time.

Wendy’s truck was old and run-down. At one point, it had been robin’s egg blue, but now it was mostly faded with splotches of orange rust coming through. It was older than she was, but still ran thanks to Jordan and her dad. Mr. Arroyo ran one of the two auto mechanic shops in town, and Jordan was his protégé. Jordan always seemed to be taking care of Wendy, one way or another.

Wendy moved open the door, but Jordan leaned against it. “You okay to get home?” she asked, brown eyes squinting in the waning sunlight.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Wendy said, both to Jordan and to herself.

“I wish I didn’t have to work tonight,” Jordan said, her perfectly symmetrical eyebrows furrowed.

“It’s fine,” Wendy said. Her eyes cut to the fading light.

“Y’know, I can totally blow my shift off,” Jordan added, speaking faster in the way she did when she was talking herself into doing something. “We can meet up with Tyler? They’re doing Loopers on the back roads—or we could go to the Gateway and see a movie?”

“No, it’s fine, really.” Wendy liked Jordan’s boyfriend, Tyler, but she didn’t feel like driving around with him and his friends. Tyler’s car was a Toyota truck on huge wheels that Wendy always struggled to get into. He took the twisty roads through town too fast, and the loud voices and smell of beer made her carsick. When it came to movies, Jordan always wanted to see the latest horror flick, and even though Wendy knew Jordan would suffer through an indie documentary on Amazon rainforest crocodiles for Wendy, her nerves were worn raw to make herself reciprocate. “I don’t really feel like celebrating, anyway.”

Jordan didn’t look satisfied with that answer, but, to Wendy’s relief, she let it go. “Get home safe, then.” Jordan pushed herself away from the truck and gave a lock of Wendy’s dark blond hair an affectionate tug. “And text me if you need anything, all right?”

Wendy smoothed a hand through her hair as she opened the door and climbed in. “I will.”

“And you better eat this and tell me how you like it!” Jordan ordered as she handed her the Tupperware, the uneaten cupcake squished inside. “Oh! I nearly forgot!” Jordan dug into her duffel bag and pulled out a rectangular present, sloppily wrapped in shiny navy paper. “Open it, open it!”

Wendy couldn’t help but laugh at Jordan’s excitement as she bounced on the spot. She peeled back the wrapping paper to reveal a sketchpad. The cover had a drawing of a bird mid-flight and Jordan had taped a box of art pencils to the front.

“A sketchpad?” Wendy said, surprised and a little confused.

“Yes, a sketchpad!” Jordan announced triumphantly. “I noticed how much you’ve been doodling lately,” she said, tilting her chin to a proud angle as she crossed her arms.

“You’ve seen those?” Wendy asked.

“Uh, yeah, of course I have!” Jordan said with a huff before grinning. “I was just pretending like I didn’t so you’d be extra surprised when I gave you your present. I figured a sketchpad would be better than random bits of paper, don’t you think?”

Wendy let out an awkward laugh as she thumbed the thick pages. “Yeah, definitely.”

“Lots of trees, right?” It was clear by the smile on her face that Jordan was trying to prove how much she had noticed. “And who’s the boy?”

Wendy’s eye went wide. “Boy?”

“Yeah, the boy you’re always sketching—” Jordan reached over and plucked a piece of paper from the center console. “Yeah, this guy! See?” She held it out for Wendy to see. It was a drawing of a boy sitting in a tree, one leg draped over a branch in mid-swing, the small hint of dimples in his cheeks. His messy hair drooped over his eyes, obscuring some of his features. In the corner was an unfinished sketch of an old, twisted tree with gnarled roots and no leaves.

A rush of heat went to Wendy’s cheeks. “It’s no one!” She snatched the paper from Jordan’s hand and crumpled it.

Jordan’s face lit up. “Oh my God—Wendy Darling, are you blushing?”

“No!” Wendy balked. Now her face was on fire.

Jordan threw her head back with a laugh. “Okay, now you have to tell me! Who’s the boy, Wendy?” She held up a finger. “And don’t you dare try to lie to me!”

Wendy’s head fell back against the headrest and she let out a groan. If she lied, Jordan would know it and just keep hounding her. But the truth just felt so embarrassing.

Wendy looked at Jordan, who cocked an eyebrow expectantly.

Ugh!” She sighed. “It’s Peter Pan,” she muttered under her breath.

“Peter Pan?” Jordan repeated with a frown. “Peter—wait, you mean the guy from your mom’s stories?” she asked.

“Yes,” Wendy admitted.

On Sale
Sep 1, 2020
Page Count
352 pages