|Ghosts of Rancho Espanto
Author: Cuevas, Adrianna
Rafa goes to work on a Rancho Espanto as punishment for a prank gone wrong, where he discovers a mystery as inexplicable as it is familiar and ultimately leads to Rafa learning hard truths about himself.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 520371
Kirkus Reviews (02/01/23)
School Library Journal (10/27/23)
The Hornbook (00/03/23)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2023 Cuevas’ riveting middle-grade novel follows Rafa, a Cuban American boy who is sent off to a ranch in New Mexico as punishment for a school-prank fiasco with his friends. When Rafa gets to the ranch, he discovers that little is what it seems, and there are more mysteries afoot than he expected from a boring detention job. Rafa usually finds comfort in his favorite role-playing game, the Forgotten Age, but when the very same game and a slushy-machine heist gone wrong results in disaster and punishment, he must learn to establish new friendships and apply hard work in the real world. Readers will relate readily to Rafa’s easygoing, creative, voice-y narration and sympathize with him when he is sent far from home to meditate on his actions. As the emotional clues and multiple time lines and multiverses swirl around him at the eerie ranch, Rafa and his new friends must unravel the truth behind the mysterious figure haunting Rancho Espanto and sabotaging Rafa's hard work, learning in the process much more about themselves and their priorities than they originally expected. In a twist that is equal parts haunting and poignant, readers of all ages will be compelled to reflect upon their own lives and legacies after this gripping read. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/27/2023 Gr 3–7—In this intriguing paranormal fantasy-mystery, 12-year-old Cuban American Rafael "Rafa" and his best friends' harebrained scheme to steal their school's slushy machine lands them in trouble. Rafa is banished from Miami to a Santa Fe, NM, ranch for the summer that's an artists' retreat, a scientists' research center, and potentially haunted. His first day there Rafa sees cows in the canyon that no one else seems to see, and a strange man who tells Rafa that he shouldn't be there. Assigned to help Black barn manager Marcus, a military vet, Rafa is blamed when the horses escape the corral. With help from his only peer on the ranch—purple-braided, talkative Korean American Jennie Kim, daughter of the ranch librarian—Rafa investigates some very odd and inexplicable incidents. Jennie tells him about the outlaw cattle-rustling brothers who lived in the canyon in the 1800s and reputedly still haunt it. They suspect one of brothers' ghosts is behind these strange occurrences. Their investigation leads them into a dangerous and otherworldly paradox. Beyond the story's scary, mysterious, and humorous aspects, it sensitively explores the characters' invisible scars from illness, PTSD, death, grief, and anxiety. VERDICT The emotional resonance for readers in this appealing story is in how Rafa and other characters come to terms with transformative events in their lives in a very real and relatable way.—Sharon Rawlins - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.