Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones Review: Comfortably Imaginative

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

Review Made Possible by Rockstar Book Tours and Aladdin: Simon and Schuster; Review Copy Provided by Aladdin: Simon and Schuster

Image Courtesy of Aladdin: Simon and Schuster

Ryan Calejo’s sequel to his wonderfully imaginative Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows has finally hit store shelves, relieving his eager fans of the hungry wait for the next Hispanic-mythology inspired stories from Charlie and company. And much like the first book in this so-called “Charlie Hernández” series, The Castle of Bones is a wildly entertaining thrill throughout its dense 608 pages, layering familiar character archetypes with an engrossing narrative that should pique the interest of any fan of Rick Riordan’s sprawling series of mythology breaking into the modern world. In that regard, this second installment, as well as its predecessor, has its clear readership from the very start, and author Ryan Calejo makes a key noting of this, stealing plot cues and devices from Riordan’s own novels.

Indeed, Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones is not as revolutionary as it is entertaining, instead comfortably resting in formations that appeal to most middle-grade audiences because of Riordan’s success. Such familiarity doesn’t always work against the novel either, the choice making the series, particularly this second novel, a witty and easily digestible read. Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones will thrill Calejo’s readers with its smart writing and gloriously entertaining moments of fantastically Hispanic myths and lore, all lending towards a second installment that somehow matches and even surpasses its 2018 predecessor.

Image Courtesy of Aladdin: Simon and Schuster

Chronicling Charlie’s journey immediately after The League of Shadows, The Castle of Bones wastes no time in immediately setting the stakes for this action-packed adventure. Charlie and Violet are thrust into a wildly enjoyable set piece of mythological creatures that enhances Calejo’s roaring banter. From then on, Calejo never lets up, continuing its rocket-like pace through the entire book, a length that is almost double that of The League of Shadows. Such an achievement shouldn’t go unnoticed, and readers certainly won’t as when the final page is pulled over, there will only be a hunger for more. Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones is quite literally the opposite of a slow-burn, speeding at a solid click. Consequently, though, at its detriment, it loses the nuances that a “slow-burn” would entail. For instance, developing character moments between Charlie and Violet are devastatingly lacking here. While in the heat of one of Calejo’s expertly told action sequences, such omissions may not be that noticeable, a potentially intentional decision on his part, upon reflection, they certainly are. However, flaws like this only make up a thin periphery of The Castle of Bones and just how thrilling of a middle-grade read it is.

In conclusion, Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones is an electric time for all fans of Riordan’s works or just the middle-grade genre in general. It makes due work in providing excellence in almost all corners, crafting what is an infectiously fun novel, certainly exceeding its predecessor in that regard. It may miss the key character moments that make sure the engrossing narrative sticks in one’s mind, but it’s still just so riveting from the very first page to the very end.


Enter the giveaway attached below for a chance to receive a signed physical copy of Charlie Hernández and the Castle of Bones, courtesy of Rockstar Book Tours. This giveaway is open to US Residents only.

Inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America, this bold sequel to Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows, which Booklist called “a perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan” in a starred review, follows Charlie as he continues on his quest to embrace his morphling identity.

Charlie Hernandez still likes to think of himself as a normal kid. But what’s normal about being a demon-slaying preteen with an encyclopedic knowledge of Hispanic and Latino mythology who can partially manifest nearly any animal trait found in nature? Well, not much. But, Charlie believes he can get used to this new “normal,” because being able to sprout wings or morph fins is pretty cool.

But there is a downside: it means having to constantly watch his back for La Mano Peluda’s sinister schemes. And when the leader of La Liga, the Witch Queen Jo herself, is suddenly kidnapped, Charlie’s sure they’re at it again.

Determined to save the queen and keep La Liga’s alliances intact, Charlie and his good friend Violet Rey embark on a perilous journey to track down her captors. As Charlie and Violet are drawn deeper into a world of monstruos and magia they are soon left with more questions than answers—like, why do they keep hearing rumors of dead men walking, and why is Charlie suddenly having visions of an ancient evil: a necromancer priest who’s been dead for more than five centuries?

Charlie’s abuela once told him that when dead men walk, the living run in fear. And Charlie’s about to learn the truth of that—the hard way.


Author: Ryan Calejo

Pub. Date: November 12, 2018

Publisher: Aladdin

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 608

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Image Courtesy of Aladdin: Simon and Schuster

Ryan Calejo was born and raised in south Florida. He graduated from the University of Miami with a BA. He’s been invited to join both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honour Society. He teaches swimming to elementary school students, chess to middle school students, and writing to high school students. Having been born into a family of immigrants and growing up in the so-called “Capital of Latin America,” Ryan knows the importance of diversity in our communities and is passionate about writing books that children of all ethnicities can relate to. His first novel was Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows.

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