Image: Four girls, two with dark brown skin and black hair and two with light brown skin and brown hair, strike a heroic pose in front of the Miami cityscape at night. Text: "Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse. Chantel Acevedo."

KidLit Book Review: Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo


Synopsis

Callie Martinez-Silva didn’t mean to turn her best friend into a pop star. But when a simple pep talk leads to miraculous results, Callie learns she’s the newest muse of epic poetry, one of the nine muses of Greek mythology tasked with protecting humanity’s fate in secret.

Whisked away to muse headquarters, she joins three recruits her age, who call themselves the Muse Squad. Together, the junior muses use their magic to inspire and empower—not an easy feat when you’re eleven and still figuring out the goddess within.

When their first assignment turns out to be Callie’s exceptionally nerdy classmate Maya Rivero, the squad comes to Miami to stay with Callie and her Cuban family. There, they discover that Maya doesn’t just need inspiration, she needs saving from vicious Sirens out to unleash a curse that will corrupt her destiny.

As chaos erupts, will the Muse Squad be able to master their newfound powers in time to thwart the Cassandra Curse…or will it undo them all?


Details

  • Title: Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse
  • Series: Muse Squad, Book 1
  • Author: Chantel Acevedo
  • Cover Artist: art by Jonathan Stroh, art direction by Joel Tippie
  • Publisher: Balzer & Bray
  • ISBN: 0062947699
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2020
  • For Ages: 8-12
  • Category: Middle Grade
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.

Review

Hello, friends! I’ve been in a bit of a reviewing slump lately, but I’m not sure why. It’s certainly not because of this book, which was a charming adventure, a terrific ownvoices Cuban-American story, and an intriguing reimagining of Greek mythology. Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse tells the story of Callie Martinez-Silva, a Miami middle-schooler who begins noticing odd things happening to her. After a group of strangers band together to avert a crisis and her best friend nails an important audition (and somehow grows an inch instantaneously), Callie discovers that she is a muse: Calliope, the muse of epic poetry. She joins the other eight muses, who hail from nearly every continent on the planet (sorry, Antarctica and Australia), to inspire humanity and protect them from the Sirens, who seek chaos and destruction everywhere they go.

There’s a lot going on in this book, but author Chantel Acevedo does an incredible job of keeping the reader entertained and engaged on every page. In addition to struggling to wrap her head around the fact that she’s a real-life goddess, Callie has issues with feeling like an ugly duckling: she inspires others to be their best selves, but she feels left out and inadequate. When her best friend Raquel becomes a star after her audition video goes viral—the audition that Callie inspired with her muse magic—Callie can’t help but feel jealous and distraught over losing her best friend. She’s also dealing with a difficult family situation: her parents are divorced, and her dad’s new wife is pregnant with her half-sibling. Young readers may not know what it feels like to discover that they’re actually an ancient goddess, but they will certainly relate to Callie’s overwhelmed, lonely, and insecure state.

Muse Squad also has some serious global issues on its mind. The Sirens target Maya Rivero, Callie’s classmate who is destined to become a leader in the fight against climate change. The book discusses the imminent danger that we all face and asks why no one has done anything to prevent it, but it does end on a hopeful note that emphasizes the need for innovative thinking and immediate action that will likely inspire young female scientists to build a better future.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way it takes a Greek myth and applies it universally. The muses come from all over the world. They are of different races and religions; they speak different languages. They embrace each other’s differences and work together to help the world. As the head muse Clio says, “Inspiration knows no borders, and all people and places are equal and worthy of inspiration.” The muses believe in equity and using your powers for good; they also believe in forgiving others and forgiving yourself, which is a hard-won lesson for Callie.

Callie’s journey as she grows into her newfound identity is fun and inspirational. She learns that anybody can be a hero and that she has unique gifts and her own special beauty, both inside and out. Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse is a mythological adventure that focuses on working through difficult emotions with love and humility. It shows kids that they are special, and that by believing in yourself and your own journey, you too can be a hero.


Rating

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 coffins.

4.5 Coffins


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