Listening Library. Sept. 2021. 613p. $45. ISBN 9780593415726.
Gr 4-7–In this book based on the card game Lotería and set in Oaxaca, Mexico, 11-year-old Clara has been marked for a Lotería. Life and Death only deal the cards once a year, and each card they draw impacts Clara. Whoever wins, Life or Death, will determine Clara’s future, or lack thereof. Meanwhile, Clara’s aunt suddenly passes away. Her grieving cousin Esteban disappears into the night and to save him, Clara has to travel to Las Pozas, a mythical kingdom beyond the Aztlán portal, where every choice has direct consequences. Can she overcome the game? Can she save her cousin? Narrator Frankie Corzo’s slow, methodic voice is a solid fit for the philosophical elements of the story. Her narration helps to bring the likable characters and their emotions to life. The plot is well developed and does justice to Aztec mythology, but gets significantly bogged down in the middle. The imagery is detailed and helps set the scene for listeners. The characters are Mexican.
VERDICT Recommended for collections where mythological fiction, folklore, fantasy, and philosophy are popular.

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