cover image Secret of the Moon Conch

Secret of the Moon Conch

David Bowles and Guadalupe García McCall. Bloomsbury, $19.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-54-760989-5

Two Mexican teens in separate timelines fall in love via a magical conch shell in this sweeping fantasy by Bowles (They Call Her Fregona) and McCall (Echoes of Grace). In 1521 Tenochtitlan, Calizto, a 17-year-old orphan, contends with Spanish colonizers. While escaping pursuers, Calizto throws a sacred shell tied to the moon goddess into the ocean; it washes ashore in 2019, where it’s found by 17-year-old Sitali, who is desperate to leave Mexico. After her father abandoned her family to immigrate to the United States and her mother died of a broken heart, Sitali’s abuela Lucia—the girl’s last tie to Mexico—has also died. When a crime lord attempts to force her into marriage, Sitali determines to flee to the U.S., hoping to find her father. By communicating through the moon conch, Sitali tells Calizto of the fallout of colonization while they comfort each other through their struggles. Though occasionally dense prose prioritizes historical context, Sitali and Calizto’s alternating perspectives capably center their individual conflicts and depict the treatment of Indigenous communities through engaging present-day and 16th-century lenses. A gentle love story and action-packed sequences elevate this sobering read. Ages 13–up. Agent: Taylor Martindale Kean, Full Circle Literary. (June)