Hello Gemmies! I have an exciting book review to share with you today. Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal is a YA horror mystery with touches of the supernatural, family drama, and coming of age angst.
I was so excited to see this book is set in Puerto Rico and features the food, music, and folklore of the island. It's also a really good mystery with touches of horror and the supernatural all wrapped in one. This unique story is dark and gritty, well written and entertaining. I love that Ann Davila Cardinal goes beyond the tourist ideal image of Puerto Rico and address some real life issues the island and its people are facing. The character development is great, with the Island playing its very own character. We get to explore different barrios and various parts of the island. I must insert a trigger warning here, this book contains food porn so read with snacks handy! There was one point where I wanted to jump on a plane go to Pinones and get my hands on some bacalaitos and alcapurria! The vivid world building will have you feeling fully immersed in island life.
The story is told from multiple points of view which makes each chapter feel fresh and adds depth to the overall story. Overall the characters were wonderful but I do need to call out the two main female protagonists Lupe and Maribel. I didn't really care for either of them and never truly warmed up to them. Lupe used her "feminist" beliefs as a cover for rudeness. And Maribel was really damaged and probably needed to spend some time in juvie. That's about the only negative feedback I have for this book. But please don't let that keep you from giving this book a chance. I felt so many emotions reading this novel..... happiness, sadness, outrage, fear, and anger. There are so many underlying themes to unpack, from dealing with identity, not fitting in anywhere, the gentrification of Puerto Rico and the effects it has on its people, and the generational differences between parents and their children. Ugh.... there is so much goodness happening, you really need to take your time to digest it all. There are themes of love, hate, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, bravery, sacrifice, and the courage to survive and live no matter what.
If you are a fan of gritty YA mysteries, light horror, the supernatural, and food porn, then go read this book! This gem published by Tor Teen is available for order from all major booksellers. I give Five Midnights 4 out of 5 gems. Happy Reading!