Kaela Rivera was raised to believe in will-o’-the-wisps and el chupacabra, but even ghost stories couldn’t stop her from reading in the isolated treetops, caves, and creeks of Tennessee’s Appalachian forests. She still believes in the folktales of her Mexican-American and British parents, but now she writes about them from the adventure-filled mountains of the Wild West. Her debut novel, CECE RIOS AND THE DESERT OF SOULS, was published in 2021. The sequel, CECE RIOS AND THE KING OF FEARS, will follow in 2022. When she’s not crafting stories, she’s using her English degree from BYU–I as an editor for a marketing company (or secretly doodling her characters in the margins of her notebook). Her biggest hope is to highlight and explore the beauty of cultural differences — and how sharing those differences can bring us all closer.
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls
When a powerful desert spirit kidnaps her sister, Cece Rios must learn forbidden magic to get her back, in this own voices middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of The Storm Runner and Aru Shah and the End of Time.
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 crime.
When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans and agrees to help her on her journey.
With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.
Cece Rios and the King of Fears
Cece Rios thought saving her sister would be the end of her adventures in the world of criaturas. But part of Juana’s soul is still trapped in Devil’s Alley. As Cece tries to find a way to get it back using her new curandera abilities, Juana takes her fate in her own hands and sets off alone, intent on restoring her soul and getting revenge on El Sombrerón.
But then they discover that El Cucuy, king of the criaturas, is hunting for Cece, craving her powers for his own dark purposes. Can the Rios sisters—along with Coyote, Little Lion, and their other criatura allies—uncover his secrets and reclaim Juana’s soul? Or will the sinister forces of Devil’s Alley overcome them all?