The Brujos of Borderland High

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Pub Date Aug 01 2024 | Archive Date Aug 01 2024

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High - Low Novel, written in Verse.

High school is rough for a gay teen brujo going through his first breakup. And Alejandro’s supernatural ability to see the past with the use of his tarot cards makes it so the past is all he ever really focuses on. Alejandro would like to pour his passion into piano to prepare for the upcoming winter recital, but bizarre supernatural forces seem out to get him. When a time-traveling demon arrives with a mission to stop the upcoming high school winter recital from taking place, Alejandro must focus on the future to slay the demon, save the recital, and maybe get a second chance at love.

High - Low Novel, written in Verse.

High school is rough for a gay teen brujo going through his first breakup. And Alejandro’s supernatural ability to see the past with the use of his tarot cards...

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781978597358
PRICE $25.80 (USD)

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Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc of this novel in verse in exchange for a review.
I would rate this a 3.5/5. I wish we spent more time with these characters. I loved the lore and magic system of this world and I wish we had a bit more time in it. I would have loved to explore the dad (biological and uncle) and his relationship with his friend more. I did really enjoy the message of it and how it approached forgiveness.

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Thanks West 44 Books and Netgalley for this eARC, these opinions are my own. I love me a Gume Laurel III In Verse novel! Alejandro has been struggling since his relationship ended. His brujería allows him to see the past. And right now all he can focus on is the past. His friend Zander and his dad try to help him move on but it’s difficult. Then strange things start happening, people who look like him showing up, chicharra’s destroying things, and Cold Magic being used. What does Alejandro have to do with it all? Can he figure it out before he gets hurt? I love how so much gets packed into these In Verse novels! A cool magic system, character growth, and a hint of romance!! Highly recommend checking this one out! A quick read full of intrigue and excitement!

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Even though it’s short, this book packs a punch! I’m amazed at how much action and detail the author packed in. The story kept moving fast, and I was hooked from start to finish.

One thing that stood out to me was the theme of forgiveness—not just forgiving others, but also yourself. I also liked how the magic system was straightforward and not overly complicated, which made everything easy to follow and added to the fun. Also, I really loved the inclusion of queer romance and Latine culture, which added a layer of diversity and richness to the story.

Sure, I would’ve liked a bit more backstory on the characters, but I think the lack of it was intentional. The mystery kept me intrigued, and I feel that it actually worked well in this case. It kept me curious and wanting to know more as the story went on.

Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already!

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A YA novel in verse about a gay teen going through his first break up in a magical world.
Alejandro aka Ale is going through his first breakup after his boyfriend cheated on him. His best friend tries to cheer him up and get his mind off of it, but Ale is still lovesick. At Borderland High everyone has magical abilities and Ale’s is the ability to see the past using his tarot cards, which keeps his mental state generally in the past. Ale decides to spend lots of time preparing for his piano recital, but when a time-traveling demon keeps appearing and Ale keeps getting caught in the crossfire, he must focus on the future to slay the demon and maybe get a second chance at love.
While this book had magical realism it definitely felt more like realistic fiction, as the focus lies heavily on Ale and his journey through the breakup. I loved how this novel dealt with the topic of forgiveness and loving oneself before being in a relationship. That’s a great message for our tweens and teens. Also @cuethelibrarian makes a cameo as the school librarian!!!! So awesome This title releases August 16!

CW: parental abandonment, adoption, toxic relationship, cheating, violence, injury

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This is a very cute short story, I enjoyed the journey that the main character went through, He really grows by the end of the story, I will definitely be part of my liberty. I hope that there will be more books,

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In “The Brujos of Borderland High” by Gume Laurel III, gay teen brujo Alejandro, dealing with a breakup and his ability to see the past via tarot cards, faces new challenges when a demon begins to repeatedly attack his high school. To save the school and possibly find new love, Alejandro must shift his focus to the future and defeat the demon.

This is (another) YA novel told in verse, and similarly to Daylan and the River of Secrets, the writing in this beautiful and wonderfully purple. The magic system is very interesting, unique and I’m kind of obsessed with it. The story itself is a lot of fun, a wild ride, and has a good message, but looking back on it now, I have some questions I don’t think it really addresses. I liked the characters but I found the romance to be very abrupt, and I feel sorry for the love interest. All in all, this was a fun couple of hours as long as you take certain things at face value.

Thanks to NetGalley and Rosen Publishing Group for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a fast-paced and easy read. And even though it was so fast and packed you still got to know the characters well. This book is perfect for younger readers who not have a lot of reading experience yet. But others can definitely enjoy it too especially given the fact that you can read it in an hour or two.
I also love how the fact that our MC is queer just does not matter, just typical teen struggles.

I do think it could have been a bit longer and maybe talk more about the relationship of Ale with his father, because there's a lot of potential there.

Also the interior design was a Choice. That I would not have made. Oh well.

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‘Since these possibilities / are make-believe, / I’d also like to be/ happy when I grow up’

This is the first novel written in verse I’ve read and, while I’m usually not a fan of poetry, I loved ‘The Brujos of Borderland High’. So much so, that it only took me 2 hours to finish it.
This fairly short book follows young brujo Alejandro at his magical high school after his boyfriend cheated on him. Accompanied by his friend Zander and his uncle-turned-adoptive father, he must try to survive a time-traveling demon whose havoc-wreaking activities threaten to stop his school band’s concert from happening.
With a fast pace, this hi-lo* novel weaves endearing characters, themes forgiveness, friendship and overcoming recent and past trauma, Latinx rep, queer rep, depression and teenage angst in a short but powerful story. This novel manages to evoke profound feelings despite its briefness and seemingly simple language.
I also loved the setting: a magic-normative world with brujos, vampires and demons, where these brujos must attend special magical schools and each brujo owns a deck of 40 cards which they use to practice whatever specific magic they have. Our main character Ale, for instance, can see the past through his readings.
Something less related to the story itself, but that made the experience even more enjoyable, were the card illustrations on each page that encapsulated the words, as if we’re reading from Ale’s cards.
I’d recommend ‘The Brujos of Borderland High’ to anyone, but especially to those stuck in a reading slump that need something with a quick rhythm.

*Hi-lo: high interest, low readability: the plot includes themes geared towards older teens, while the vocabulary and the complexity of the speech remain accessible. Check the author’s video on his Instagram ( for more information on the meaning of hi-lo.

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This was the first time I've read Gume Laurel III’s work, and I loved it. This just as easily could have been a book about/for adults, but I think making it about a teenager gives it a different kind of energy, and allows for it to be a powerful story for readers of any age. I like that if I gift this book to a nibling, they might glean different lessons from it over the years.

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I from time to time read prosa in verse, therefore I quite quickly got used to the writing style and could easily emerge into the story.

What bothers me is, that sometimes the headlines were part of the text, sometime they were well headlines.

The story itself was fast paced and well executed. Especially the setting was great but the characters were also cute. Of course, the plot was not groundbreaking but I had a good time!


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A novel told in verse about a gay teen brujo going through his first breakup. His magic is using tarot cards to see the past. There are other magical creatures including vampires, chupacabras, demons, and lechuzas. It’s a magical setting but really a story about wanting to find love and needing to forgive and find love within yourself. For how short it is, it was effective in introducing this magic system and characters and giving us an emotional arc. I think it could’ve benefitted from 100 or more pages just to flesh out the magic system and characters more. Otherwise, though, a really enjoyable read.

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So cool. A totally different type of genre I usually read but I'm so happy I got out of my comfort zone. It was cool, it totally delivered! 4 stars and a half for sure.

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High school is hard for everyone and this story really helps us see that teenagers are teenagers are teenagers. Brujo or not, magic doesn’t make feelings and intrusive thoughts and heartbreak and growth easier. It’s acceptance of self and those who love us most. It’s letting in the good and recognizing when to let go of the bad. All this and more are felt throughout Brujos and it is all told in verse.

The way the author evokes so much emotion with just a few lines and expertly laid periods is inspiring. The use of white space and short sentences truly helped drive the action sequences and conversely, the longer sentences and sentiments made the emotional moments that much more impactful. Lyricism is tricky to pull off when the lines are not meant to rhyme. There is an ebb and flow that needs to be understood in order for a story to blend together and work off of itself, and the author flows in and out of emotion with an ease that is not usually seen in YA.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you have a student or child that struggles with reading long stories. This is a fully formed story from start to finish written in a way that makes it fast – paced (even when it’s not an action sequence), yet slow enough to truly understand what Ale is feeling and thinking and longing for. This book covers topics of addiction, generational trauma, heartache, self-love, and redemption (among others). Alejandro is a gay, teenage brujo going through his first breakup and not taking it well. I think we can all agree we have been in his shoes at least once.

This was my first time reading a book in verse and I loved it! I cannot wait to own a physical copy.

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In "The Brujos of Borderland High," author Gume Laurel III weaves an enchanting story that seamlessly blends the struggles of teenage life with elements of supernatural fantasy. The novel follows Alejandro, a gay teen brujo (male witch) navigating the complexities of his first heartbreak while grappling with his newfound ability to glimpse into the past through tarot cards.

Laurel's writing vividly transports readers into Alejandro's world, where the mundane and magical intertwine. As a time-traveling demon threatens to disrupt the high school's winter recital, Alejandro must confront his inner demons and harness his powers to protect not only the event but also his own future.

What truly sets this novel apart is its authentic portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters and their experiences. Laurel deftly explores themes of identity, acceptance, and self-love, creating a narrative that resonates deeply with readers from all walks of life.

With its captivating blend of romance, supernatural elements, and relatable coming-of-age struggles, "The Brujos of Borderland High" promises to be a spellbinding addition to the young adult literary landscape. Laurel's masterful storytelling and inclusive representation make this a must-read for anyone seeking a magical escape that also offers profound insights into the human experience.

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Gume Laurel III's The Brujos of Borderland High shuffles a potent deck of heartbreak, self-discovery, and Latine culture, presenting a narrative as captivating as a well-laid tarot spread. Alejandro, our young Brujo protagonist, only wants to focus on his piano. But he's haunted by echoes of his past after a brutally emotional break-up. Then fate, like a capricious hand, throws down a troublesome card. A time-traveling demon knocks Alejandro off course, forcing him to confront the future and the transformative power of forgiveness.

Laurel's captivating verse explores the universal themes of heartbreak and self-acceptance. The concise lines crackle with raw emotion, capturing the depths of Ale's grief and the gradual arc of his healing. It’s a powerful exploration of navigating loss, embracing self-worth, and stepping courageously toward a brighter future, a Fool's Journey writ large.

But there’s much more than melancholic introspection here. This queer story is built on a unique magic system, intertwined with Latine culture, and laced with thrilling action and a captivating mystery as Alejandro confronts the demon and unravels its secrets. Prepare to be enthralled, and know that the emotional resonance will linger long after you turn over the last card.

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I couldn’t put the book down. I really enjoyed how it included the Latino culture to the fantasy world of Alejandro. Alejandro is going through a breakup and even though he is a brujo (witch), he still struggles just like any other teenager. This is such a great read and struggling readers will be able to read this book.

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Thank you to NetGalley, West 44 Books, Rosen Publishing Group, and Gume Laurel III for the opportunity to read The Brujos of Borderland High in exchange for an honest review.

After being absolutely blown away by Samson & Domingo, I knew Gume Laurel III's next novel would be an absolute gem. As you read the novel, be sure to take an extra moment to think about the cover and what it signifies to the narrator, Alejandro, as well as the overall thematic elements. An ouroboros with a clock pictured. And on a tarot card too! One of the cool aspects of the novel is that every page is laid out like the tarot card on the cover, giving the novel an interesting feel of fate as you are learning about Ale's own fate.

Ale is a brujo, among other magical creatures that attend Borderland High, such as Lechuzas, Sirenas, and Chupacabras, to name a few. The Spanish glossary at the beginning of the novel is a nice touch, if one needs to reference any of the Spanish words. Using Spanish in the writing really adds a culturally authentic feel to the novel as well. After a rough breakup with Gustavo, Ale has a hard time moving on. He constantly thinks about Gustavo and wants to get back with him, but he already has a new boyfriend. In the meantime, Ale finds friendship in Zander, who tries to help prevent Ale from the toxicity that is his ex.

While Ale's brujero magic involves seeing the past, it is the future that seems problematic, and there's not much he can do about something he doesn't know. It's always the same cards giving his hand of fate. When a time-traveling demon comes to wreak havoc on the school, eyes turn to Ale because of their similarities. Determined to fight the demon and clear his name, Ale takes on his greatest challenge yet. But is there truly anything more challenging than a breakup? 

The Brujeros of Borderland High is a hi-lo novel written in a poetic verse style. Gume Laurel III has a brilliant craft with creating such dynamic characters that the reader truly cares about in such a short amount of time and with so few words. The LGBTQ representation feels  like a truly natural aspect on the novel, as opposed to some where it feels forced. The cultural aspects of this novel really make it stand out among the masses, adding that paranormal aspect with Hispanic folklore and mysticism. The diversity of this novel really makes it a true gem. This is a novel readers of all ages can pick up and enjoy.

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What it's about: A gay teenager learns to deal with his first heartbreak in an all-magic society.

Pros: I really liked the worldbuilding with Latinx magic and symbolic cartomancy. The romance was very cute. And I found that the glossary being at the beginning, and not too long either, was very useful,

Cons: The free verse took me some time to get used to. The page design is really cool and fits the story's cartomancy element, but it wasn't an easy format for me to plunge into.

Comp: The romance had Heartstopper Season 1 vibes.

Overall, I found it an enjoyable YA, short and sweet. If you want a read with a different magic system that doesn't require 400 pages just to get started, this is for you!

Stars: 4/5

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Alejandro, or Ale for short, attends Borderland High, a magical school where everyone possesses mystical abilities. Ale's abilities allow him to see the past through his tarot cards.
We meet Ale while he is in the throes of his first heartbreak after discovering his boyfriend's infidelity. Despite his best friend's efforts to lift his spirits, Alejandro remains deeply lovesick. Ale immerses himself in prepping for his school's piano recital to distract himself.
His plans are disrupted however by a time-traveling demon who suddenly crosses his path. Alejandro quickly realizes he must shift his focus to defeat this demon and save his school.

This story is set in a Queer normative magical world, filled with Mexican folklore creatures, linguistic diversity, and diverse characters with Chicano Tex-Mex roots.

The book is written in verses, which makes it easy to read for those who are learning or struggling with the English language, as well as a unique format to the chapters

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The story centers on Ale, a high-school brujo (witch-doctor) who is gay, Latino, orphaned, raised by a young uncle, and who has recently survived his first, brutal breakup (by text!). His magical gift is the ability to see the past through use of his Tarot deck, but when things get squirrely on the eve of a highly anticipated musical recital, Ale has to find a way to change his focus to imagine a new, more positive future.

I zipped through this novel-in-verse while on a recent flight: it's quick, surprisingly jam-packed with action and characterization, aimed at youthful readers who might not have patience for a slowly unfolding story — but which I, as a relatively sophisticated older reader, found a delightful change of pace.

This is a book sure to be challenged by book banners, but like most of what people find edgy in fiction is how the book takes a look at our shared world from an outlier's viewpoint. Which is precisely the reason to read — and why I hope this muscular, boycentric poetry will find its way to public bookshelves for all of us to enjoy.

Thanks to NetGalley and West 44 Books for the free eARC in exchange for my unfettered opinion.

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Gume for sure has a unique writing style and take on storytelling that leaves an impact long after you finish reading it.
We meet Alejandro, a gay teen brujo with a supernatural ability to use his tarot cards to see into the past. The story centers around his first breakup and his journey of navigating it.
This book for sure gave me all the feels. I could relate on a deep level with the central characters expiernce with a first break up. And the want to just to be loved and not be abandoned.
I always feel that when a book can bring up such deep emotions, it’s a great book.
Overall I loved this book. It’s a quick and easy read with an emotional punch that stays with you long after reading the last page.
Gume knows how to put a piece of himself into an each book he puts out. It’s awe inspiring.
Highly recommend.

Thank to the folks at NetGalley and Rosen Publishing for a ARC of this book. My review is a honest reflection of my feelings towards this book.

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Thank you NetGalley for this arc!

I've never read a book written entirely in verse, and this was a great introduction to the style! The book was short but quick paced and interesting, I'd love to have more from this alternate world where everyone is some type of creature. A really unique idea with the Brujos all have different fortune telling powers with their tarot decks. I fell in love with Ale and his big heart and would love more from other characters in this world!

I also plan on getting a hard copy of this to see the final formatting as I think this kindle version had a lot of issues

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Thanks very much to the author, West 44 Books, and NetGalley for this ARC!

My Review
(very minor spoilers)

This is a short and sweet YA story about learning self-worth and opening yourself up to love, with a Latine cast set at a queer-normative magical high school in Texas with monsters, demons, and time travel. This was a new format for me, both in terms of hi-lo and verse novels. The concept of hi-lo is so cool for accessibility, and this author accomplishes it SO well! I was so impressed by his ability to develop complex characters, describe a complete magical system/world, and even integrate timeline flashbacks, all using very simple language AND sentence structures in the verse format. I think the verse structure helped facilitate the impact of Ale’s emotions too, which so astutely captured his adolescent experiences navigating first relationships, family, and identity development. I feel like his emotional vulnerability and growth throughout the book make him a really loveable character - I’m lowkey proud of him for breaking toxic cycles, Gustavo is trash! I also really enjoyed reading a Mexican American MC and family, including the Latin American brujería/lore and Spanish language sprinkled in (with glossary). The inner design integrating the tarot cards was a very cool added artistic element I’ve never seen before, I’d recommend the hard copy to get the full experience!

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For such a short book, this packed a punch!! Some magic, some mystery, some love. I really enjoyed it!!

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