The Sacrifice

Sourcebooks/Fire. Nov. 2022. 332p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728255910.
Gr 8 Up–Chupeco serves up a deeply unsettling and creepy tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page. A Hollywood film crew wants to investigate the stories of the beautiful island oasis Kisapmata’s deadly curse—even though the Filipino locals warn them repeatedly to stay away from the domain of the Dreamer god who slumbers there, a god who will give unimaginable power in exchange for eight sacrifices. Will the crew find the proof they seek, or will they fall to the curse’s power? Chupeco weaves together Filipino folklore, mythology, and history into a complex horror novel that also incorporates real-world issues, such as racist microaggressions, misgendering (of the protagonist, Alon, who is nonbinary), and the lasting effects of colonialism. The Dreamer god, referred to as the Diwata, only seeks out those who have harmed others, and He has his choice of targets among the Hollywood crew. Alon is a relatable and earnest character, even when they are giving cryptic warnings to the crew. Many of the secondary characters have dark pasts (and presents), leaving it unclear who will survive as the island’s curse escalates.
VERDICT A thrilling and suspenseful tale that will leave readers treading more carefully around trailing vines; a must-purchase for libraries where horror and stories steeped in mythology circulate well.

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