This took a bit to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed the fantasy world set up pitting brujas against curanderos with different types of magic, and the roles assigned to various creatures of numerous Latinx mythology in Devil's Alley -- El Chupacabra, La Llorona, El Sombreron, Coyote, Tzitzimitl, and many more.
Cece wanders into the desert and gets lost, until Tzitzimitl finds her and leads her home. This is not how Cece expects the desert creatura, or magical creature, to behave -- Cece's been taught to believe they're all evil, no matter what, and should be killed, no questions asked.
Tzitzimitl gives Cece a water blessing before escaping the wrath of Cece's Sun-warrior worshipping villagers of Tierra del Sol. From that point forward, Cece is marked as someone different than all the others, and she works hard, at her mother's insistence, to prove she's a creatura-killing warrior, too.
Except, in her heart, she's not. Tzitzimitl's act of kindness lets loose a torrent of doubt in Cece's heart about the edict to kill all desert creatures, and she can't help believing they're trying to live true to their natures, just like her village is.
Then she stomps off into the desert and her older sister is taken by el Sombreron as his latest, newest bride. Cece, of course, swears to get her sister back. But to do so, she has to become what her village fears the most -- a bruja, a type of magic-worker who uses and controls creaturas by stealing their soul stones.
She cuts her hair short and heads out into the desert where she encounters Coyote, who senses, rightfully, Cece's nature is very different from that of most apprentice brujas who want to advance in the trials. The rest of the book is Cece trying to make it through the trials to become a bruja, winning over the souls of various creaturas and getting them to fight for her out of love, and in the process discovering she's not bruja material, after all. But that doesn't mean she isn't powerful enough to rescue her sister. Quite the contrary.
I won't spoil how it ends. It was a wonderful mix of Latinx mythologies and I look forward to a sequel to review this time next year!