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Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares: 03/31/22

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia is the second book in this middle grade fantasy series. Since going head to head with La Llorona, things have been strained between Paola, Dante, and Emma. Despite being neighbors and long time besties, Paola and Dante barely speak to each other.

At home things aren't much better. Her mother has started dating and now there's a serious boyfriend in the picture. Now it looks like he's going to be moving in and Paola's not sure that's a good idea.

To further complicate things, Paola has started having prophetic dreams. They always involve a shadowy figure, dancing green creatures, and a creepy forest. When the dreams start happening when she's awake and begin to involve Dante's abuela, Paola has to get her friends back together before something terrible happens.

Where the first book stayed close to home with the doorway al otro lado being in a nearby cactus grove, this one takes Paola and Dante on a cross state roadtrip for answers. It involves taking risks and essentially running away from home, albeit temporarily.

Of course there's a new monster along the way one who is completely appropriate for a road trip through California. But there are other supernatural surprises which I don't want to spoil here. I found volume two to be quite the nail-biter.

Placement of the two Paola Santiago novels on the Road Narrative Spectrum

It's both a literal road trip and a metaphorical one, which puts this novel on the Road Narrative Spectrum. This time Paola travels in a group but as young teens traveling across state lines unaccompanied by adults, they are marginalized travelers (66). Their destination is the forest of Paola's visions and more literally, a forest in southern Oregon. Both of these represent the wildlands (99). Their route there is off the interstates to avoid the CHP and other authorities. The route as described in the book puts them on the Blue Highway (33). Thus on the Road Narrative Spectrum Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares can be summarized as being a tale of marginalized travels going to the wildlands via the Blue Highway (669933).

There's a third book Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows. It releases on August 2, 2022.

Five stars

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