Review of Burn Down, Rise Up

Burn Down, Rise Up Burn Down, Rise Up
by Vincent Tirado
High School    Sourcebooks Fire    352 pp.   g
5/22    978-1-7282-4600-0    $18.99

In this horror novel grounded in a real-world setting, sixteen-year-old Raquel’s life is upended when her friend disappears—part of a pattern of unexplained ­disappearances—and her mother is hospitalized due to a mysterious illness. Raquel is ­tormented by apparitions that lead her to understand that an evil force, “the Slumlord,” is holding and “­warping” many of the things she holds dear in a suspended state of reality that can be accessed only through a viral online challenge. As Raquel tries to save her mom, she and her friends risk everything to find answers. Along the way, she begins to understand who she is as a young queer woman and as part of a lineage of ­Dominicans who have stood up to injustice. Tirado’s inventive imagination provides a heart-rending parable (­including scenes of violence and trauma) that utilizes fantasy and spiritualism to cultivate a deeper understanding of systemic disenfranchisement of Dominican and other ­Afro-Latine immigrant communities. The author (a nonbinary Afro-Latine Bronx native) has personal ­connections that inform the thoughtful, creative depiction of lived experiences that many readers will find relatable. The sounds, smells, spirits, and shadows of the Bronx are vividly portrayed with lively language, making the fantastical seem totally ­possible.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholas A. Brown

Honduran-American librarian and arts producer Nicholas A. Brown is acting co-CEO and chief operating officer for communication and outreach at the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, an adjunct faculty in library and information science at The Catholic University of America, a District of Columbia Library Association past president, an ALA Rainbow Round table member, and a former Library of Congress music specialist.

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