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Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows: 11/13/22

Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows

Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows by Tehlor Kay Mejia (2022) is the third book in the series. Paola still needs to rescue Dante but she's having trouble harnessing her powers after the trauma of learning the truth of her family's heritage.

Meanwhile, someone is closing the portals to the dimension where Dante is being held. Paola knows she has to go to battle one last time to keep the portals open and rescue Dante.

It wouldn't be much of a book if Paola never got her abilities back. So eventually she and Emma are traveling east with the Rainbow Rogues to get to the next portal.

This time the main bad guy is el Cucuy, or the Bogeyman. He works by ruining people's reputations through clone versions of his victims. It's sort of like Body Snatchers (1955).

If I were the intended age range, I probably would have enjoyed another rehashing of tropes from the previous two. For this third confrontation, Pao should have access to a bunch of people — an army of helpers with her mother, father and Los Niños, and yet she's heading off with just Emma and a girl she's introduced to through Emma. It felt like too much of a reset.

With that lingering feeling of having been sent back to start the rest of the pacing seemed off. Of the three books, this one was unfortunately a slog to read. Sure, in the end everything wraps up nicely but getting there was a chore.

Chart showing the 3 books on the road narrative spectrum

Like the previous two volumes, Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows sits on the road narrative spectrum. The placement shows just how much of a reset the plot takes in its set up, taking Paola back almost to her orphan traveler status. Instead, though, she's in a scarecrow / minotaur (99) dichotomy. She has a monstrous heritage but still wants to protect her friends, family, and the world. Her journey this time is utopia (FF) again (like the first book) and her route is once again the cornfield (FF).

Five stars

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