The Prince & the Coyote

Levine Querido. Oct. 2023. 440p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781646141777.
Gr 9 Up–Mesoamerican thrones, alliances, wars, and wicked machinations take center stage. Acolmiztli, 16, is the son of a betrayed and murdered king, exiled and running for his life. With a broken heart and shrewd strategy, he vows revenge. He hides in the mountains, alone except for a coyote companion. There, he takes on the name of his familiar and becomes Nezahualcoyotl, meaning Fasting Coyote. But after a season of mourning, he returns to civilization, and there meets his future lifelong companion, Sekalli. But he still has a kingdom to recapture. Nezahualcoyotl plays the long game, putting systems in place that will give him back his beloved city, Tetzcoco. Years in the making, he never abandons the dream of serving his exiled people. The protagonist is also a philosopher, poet, musician, and engineer. It is through his genius that the Island of Mexico gets fresh water from Chapoltepec, among other talents and accomplishments. The work defies a specific genre. At times this epic novel reads like a military history with pops of romance. The romance leans into the inclusion of Izcalloh, his two-spirit concubine. Court intrigue creates a sense of mystery. Long passages of poetry also fill the pages of this novel. As Nezahualcoyotl ages into manhood, the novel bridges audiences between young adult and adult.
VERDICT Bowles adeptly crafts a complex, multi-format, and genre-bending novel for teens.

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