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Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

(Cece Rios #1)

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  910 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 13th 2021 by HarperCollins Children's Books
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Kaela Rivera I have good news! Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls WILL officially have a sequel--and another book after that, too! :D So glad you enjoyed the first …moreI have good news! Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls WILL officially have a sequel--and another book after that, too! :D So glad you enjoyed the first one, and I hope you enjoy the next adventure, too!(less)
Kaela Rivera That's a great question, Jennifer! The short answer is not yet. But I'm hopeful! I have a lot planned for Cece, Coyote, and their friends if I get the…moreThat's a great question, Jennifer! The short answer is not yet. But I'm hopeful! I have a lot planned for Cece, Coyote, and their friends if I get the chance to share more of their wild adventure. (less)

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Average rating 4.42  · 
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This is a Middle Grade fantasy, and this is the first book in the Cece Rios series. I picked this book up for the first time a couple of months ago, but I just was not in the mood for this type of book. I am so glad I did not give up on this book. I have to say I loved everything about this book, but I have to say it took me a little bit to get into this book. This book shows how strong loving someone is, and that love is more stronger then hate/angrier. I loved the characters in this book, and ...more
Kaela Rivera
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-debut
I’ve hesitated to give my own book five stars, but ultimately I decided this: I put five stars worth of time into this book. I put five stars worth of love into it. I put five stars worth of effort, worth of my heart, worth of my hope and healing and desire to comfort people I may never see with the only gift I have—my words.

So I hope that all five of those stars worth of time, work, love, and joy reach you through Cece’s adventure. And it’s even okay if it doesn’t because it’s not your thing. ;
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
SO MUCH FUN! Pokemon meets COCO in a spirited and moving adventure infused with Mexican American culture and Mesoamerican magic.

Y'all are going to love this book.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Had the privilege of reading this early. Love the remix of Mexican-American folktales!
Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I received Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls free of charge from NetGalley, HarperCollins, and the author Kaela Rivera. It was my choice to read and review.

I've shared in the past that sometimes middle-grade books are hard for me to read, being an adult. I do like to read them from time to time and I'm happy to say I didn't have any difficulty getting into and enjoying Cece Rios. It's appropriate for a Middle-Grade audience but, as an adult, it didn't feel like a middle-grade book. I
Toya (the reading chemist)
Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Twelve year old Cece Rios must learn the forbidden bruja magic to rescue her sister Junana after she’s kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura. Cece’s parents do not approve of the brujeria, so she must secretly learn the magic. Lucky for her, she has the help of one of most infamous criatura, Coyote, but together they must race against time to save Juana.

I absolutely loved how Rivera remixed so many Latinx folklore and mythology in this story. We got to some legends such as El Somb
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
If you love mythology and fantasy adventures that sweep you off your feet and take you for a wild and imaginative ride, then this book will hit all the right spots. I loved this and had so much fun.

- Follows Cece, a girl brought up to believe that criaturas, supernatural beings, are evil. When her sister is taken by one, Cece would do anything to save her - even if it means becoming a bruja, the only people who can control a criatura.
- The beginning has a slightly shaky start, but once Cece gets
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most grounding and insightful works I've read in a long time. It gives perspectives on love and kindness in the perspective of the real harshness many of us have encountered. This is a book I can fill heartedly recommend to any reader. ...more
Belles Middle Grade Library
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review! I’m blown away at how AMAZING this book is. It’s now 1 of my top favorites of the year(& I’ve read 106 so far). This was such a nice change from reading retellings I know by heart, to read something inspired by Latinx folklore. I was FASCINATED this whole book.

Living where Cece lives is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert & threaten humankind. To her family’s disapproval she has alw
Aug 21, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2021-releases
August 21, 2020: Mexican folklore & ancient mythology? YES PLEASE
Udy Kumra
Oct 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021-fiction
10/3/21: 5 stars. Finished this on the 30th but didn't get around to reviewing until now. This book was fucking amazing. One of the best middle grades I've ever read. I'm probably gonna do a full Reddit review later, but for now: I loved the magic system, I loved the setting and culture of the story, I thought the plot was paced fantastically—and I loved the main character, Cece Rios, so so so so much. ...more
May 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
4,5 ster. Loved it!
4.5 Stars

CWs: References to and instances of child abuse, kidnapping, allusions to death of a grandparent, descriptions of graphic injury, scenes containing graphic violence

This is an extraordinary Latinx fantasy-adventure that's perfect for fans of the Rick Riordan Presents line and other mythological inspired fantasy stories!

Cece Rios is a story about family, community, and power, and the inherent connection between all of those things. Cece is a character who was raised to fear criaturas,
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing

I was gifted a copy of this book by HarperCollins and I cannot tell you how happy I was to get it in the mail. I've already heard some early reviews from friends on Instagram so, I knew I was getting into something good.

Cece once saved a criatura from capture, and because of it the town of Tierra del Sol gives her a wide berth. When her sister is kidnapped by one of the strongest criaturas, Cece is determined to prove her worth to the town and get her back. But entering Devil'
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s easy to find contemporary retellings of the European fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. Finding an engaging book that builds on the stories handed down in Mexico and Central America is much more difficult—at least it was until Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls was written! Rivera has brought to life some great legendary figures in El Sombrerón, El Cucuy, Tzitzimitl, La Chupacabra, and La Llorona—and she does it in a way that makes them seem frighteningly fam ...more
Cara (Wilde Book Garden)
Jul 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really liked this! Cece was such a great character, I really enjoyed the criatura supporting characters, the worldbuilding and lore was super interesting and well-done, and the themes are basically tailor-made for me 😂

The biggest drawback for me was a chunk of the plot near the middle - I found the Bruja Fights themselves pretty uninteresting to watch, though I did enjoy the character stuff that happened around them.

But my favorite thing about the book far outweighed that drawback, because THE T
Jo Parsons-Rivera
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read this amazing and exciting book as a pre-reader. I loved it! Full of thought provoking choices, exciting and scary adventure, heart wrenching panic, and determination to succeed.
Cece (see-see) is a wonderful 12 almost 13 year old girl in a fantasy world based on early 20th century Mexico. She hasn’t as fiery a temperament as most of her people are expected to be and feels less because of it. But she eventually learns her own gifts as she ventures into uncharted waters as the novel p
Payal Doshi
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS was such an enjoyable read! I was immediately drawn into the landscape of Tierra del Sol and Cece Rios and her family who are threatened by criaturas who have begun to roam the desert. This book is a wonderful blend of a classic adventure story of a girl in search of her kidnapped sister and the vibrance of Mexican legend and folklore. There’s magic, brujas, and a Devil’s Alley! But at the center, this story is full of heart, courage, and kindness. I found mysel ...more
The Smol Moth
Aug 24, 2020 marked it as to-read
Please, future me, don't let me down! Remember to read this book!! Everything about the blurb sounds interesting and I'm praying I'll love it. ...more
Taylor O
May 22, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a fun time. Though there were some parts that felt clunky at times, I loved Cece as a protagonist and her journey throughout the story.
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to HarperCollins Children's Books for providing me an ARC in exchange of my honest review.

If you are searching for a book with a strong female character, CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS is perfect for you. Honestly, this is one of the best books I've read this year! You get to follow the main character, Cece, through a wonderful adventure while she's trying to save her sister. She's such a strong girl! You get to see her development through the story; not only within herself, but also w
Here's a quick and dirty review: I highly recommend this.

Much darker than I was expecting, based on this cover art and the classification of middle-grade. It looks like it's gonna have the same vibe as Sal and Gabi. Like Dora the explorer. That animated movie, Coco. Not at all! This is more like Harry Potter in that it is deadly serious and the stakes are very high.

There's virtually no humor here, but there is intense emotion. And there are strong themes of alienation, the importance of family
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I first heard what this book was about, I couldn't wait to read it. I was not disappointed! Cece Rios is a strong female character who faces down challenges with courage and heart. The fast paced adventure starts on page one and builds from there, I've no doubt it will hook young readers immediately. The rich world of the desert town Tierra del Sol is filled with fascinating aspects of Mexican mythology. I enjoyed reading about the different criaturas and the legends behind them. Cece is a ...more
Gerardo Delgadillo
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 out of 5 stars.

CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS is quite a ride–mythical creatures, witches, and souls. The adventure starts when Cece (Ceci for those of us who are native Spanish speakers) and her sister Juana cross the town’s limits, where El Sombrerón surprises them and kidnaps Juana. His purpose? Wed her. Or eat her soul. Or who knows what! One thing is for sure, Mr. Big Hat will do something baaaaaaaaad to Juana if Cece doesn’t act up fast.

So, Cece allies with Coyote and some other myt
Sep 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
I knew in the first five minutes of this (I listened to the audiobook, which is really good) that I would love this story, and I did. Cece Rios is an awesome protagonist, so brave and determined, and the friendships she makes along the way (especially with Coyote) swelled my heart, so wholesome. It's a story about how love, forgiveness, friendship, trust and courage challenge and triumph over hatred, prejudice and abuse. Cece challenges the status quo every step of the way, determined to do thin ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
Cece Rios think she is weak because her soul is more water than fire, setting her apart from the other residents of Tierra del Sol. When her sister is kidnapped by a criatura, one of the mythological creatures who attacks the area during the winter months, Cece knows that she will do anything she can to bring her back. Following the clues left behind in her disgraced aunt's diary, she sets out on the dangerous task to capture the soul of a criatura and become a bruja. Nothing goes as Cece plans. ...more
Alex | | findingmontauk1
This is a super fun MG fantasy horror story full of so much Mexican folklore, mythology, and heart. I was on an adventure the whole time and it had some really great scenes and characters. Cece is a boss and constantly shows to herself, others, and the readers many necessary life lessons. I am so happy to see this is the start of a series, too! I can totally see this taking off the more people hear about it and read it. Maybe it could even get its own adaptation one day!? Cece Rios is the hero w ...more
Dec 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
I fell in love with Cece Rios right away. We quickly learn about Cece, her town, the local criaturas, her family, the folklore... we learn so many things right off the bat, and I was pulled right into Cece's story. I was so invested in her future and her familia.

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls is filled with Mexican folklore. You will likely recognize the names of the criaturas that were inspired by legends such as La Llorona, El Cucuy, El Chupacabra, While Kaela Rivera doesn't provide much in
Katie Proctor
Jan 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This was amazing! I loved it. For fans of any MG fantasy with mythology/storytelling threads. Such a fun ride. And great on audio!
Natalie Boyer
Nov 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I would have LOVED to have read a middle grade book like this when I was younger. Something that celebrates indigenous Mexican folk tales! I just wish we could have met Cece's aunt in this book, that is the plot thread I really want to read about. ...more
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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
32 likes · 1 comments
“Because if I was doing the right thing, if I was following all the goodness I believed in, that was good enough. I didn't care how much Little Lion yelled at me or hated me, or how much I reminded him of his last Bruja; I would treat him like a person. That's what I believed in. That was who I was. I wouldn't let anything - pretending to be a bruja, my town's disdain or Little Lion's anger - rob me of myself.” 1 likes
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