Our Shadows Have Claws is an inclusive horror anthology compiled by Pura Belpré Author Award winner Yamile Saied Méndez (Furia; Where Are You From?) and Amparo Ortiz (Blazewrath Games). Fifteen chilling stories featuring monsters from different Latine cultures explore themes of identity, love, grief and oppression.
Acclaimed YA Latine authors, including Claribel A. Ortega, Chantel Acevedo and Lilliam Rivera, contribute spine-tingling stories about a variety of monsters, such as "La Madrina," a godmother who leads souls to the beyond; a Haitian "lougarou" who hunts the NYC subways; and "el duende," a green forest elf that steals sleeping children's memories. This dynamic collection combines traditional fantastical creatures like bogeymen and vampires--"los fríos"--with metaphorical monsters like environmental destruction, misogyny and racism. While some stories take place in the United States, readers will find stories set throughout Latin America. This collection prioritizes LGTBQ+ characters, Indigenous peoples and women while also giving space to people without families, homes and a sense of belonging.
Comics artist Ricardo López Ortiz's black-and-white artwork depicts each story's monster with exaggerated lines and grotesque features, building suspense and fear before the stories even begin. One particularly gruesome illustration leads into Raquel Marie's "La Patasola," an equally grisly story about a California school's camping trip that turns deadly when a vengeful Colombian spirit makes an appearance. Marie's horror elements are top notch--a "mangled corpse of a headless deer" foreshadowing what's yet to come--but she also easily infuses queer issues, fighting cultural stereotypes and societal expectations for women versus men. These stories are macabre, imaginative and noteworthy. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader