I’m always up for a story that’s a good blend of humor, scares, and good characters! Plenty of good food is great, too. This one is a little more intense than books like A Properly Unhaunted Place but less so than Paola Santiago.
Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza
by Laekan Zea Kemp
Little, Brown, 2022
Read from a library copy.
Ebook available on Libby.
Omega is a member of a family in Noche Buena known for being odd – though only a few people in town know that it’s because of their magical powers. Omega, though, isn’t able to change people’s negative emotions with her empathic powers like her family members can. She can just feel people’s emotions – easily leading to her being overwhelmed in crowded situations – and hear things like trees talk, and feel the strong feelings around inanimate objects.
This has always been more trouble than it feels like it’s worth, but when Omega’s former best friend Abby accuses Omega and her cousin Carlitos of being behind the disappearance of several neighborhood cats, those skills might come in very handy indeed. (Warning for sensitive readers: the kitties are not all right.) A giant feather Omega and Carlitos find points to a giant owl – perhaps the vengeance-driven La Lechuza of legend?? Together with their best friend Clau, a ghost who’d rather pretend she’s still alive, they set out to solve the mystery, even as ominous happenings build up around them. All of this will require Omega to learn more about her own magical abilities than ever before.
All of the impending doom is balanced by lots of delightful elements – the poster of Selena Quintanella, the statue of La Virgen, and the lamp in her bedroom, all of whom freely share their opinions with Omega, Clau’s love of creating mayhem in public spaces, the warm and quirky members of Omega’s extended family and their delicious cooking. Omega’s godmother Soona is the school librarian, and the school library is able to access a magical trans-dimensional library. And although the focus here is on Omega’s Chicane family’s magic, the larger magical community in town includes people whose traditions come from all over the world. There’s also a hint of romance and increased understanding between Omega and Abby.
I first tried listening to this on audio, but unfortunately the narrator just didn’t work for me. Luckily I was able to get the print version as well, so that I was able to be charmed by the story. I hope you are, too.