Del Toro Moon, by Darby Karchut

If "Spanish knights with their magnificent horse companions fighting monsters in the American south-west" sounds at all appealing, Del Toro Moon, by Darby Karchut (Owl Hollow Press, middle grade, October 2018)  is for you!

Back in 17th-century Spain, brave knights cleared the land of its monsters, and sealed them in magical caskets.  But they didn't want the caskets kicking around at home (to risky) so they sent them off to the Americas.  Because some of the knights actually had consiences, they went too, accompanied by magnificient, talking, Andalusian horses, to guard the hiding places of the monsters and smite any who escaped the caskets....

And now a 12-year-old kid named Matt is up on top of one of those horses, El Cid, with his mace in hand, riding across a Colorado Wilderness Area, ready (not really) to take up the family job of smiting…His father is legendary in the rather exclusive circle of monster-hunting caballeros...and Matt has been trained well.  But he's still only a kid....(a lonely kid, who's best friend is his talking horse).

The wards keeping the monsters safely confined don't seem to be working quite as well as they should, and Matt's family is worried.  Their worry grows when a group of paleontologists arrives for a dig in the wilderness area, and though they are warned and told stories of past vicious attacks by strange creatures, they are determined to have their academic fun in the sun.   The daughter of one of the scientists is Matt's age, and despite the tension, the two become friends (which allows us to see more of  uncertain, adolescent Matt than just his monster-hunting, "can I keep up with my family?" side).

And then the monsters arrive.  It is not good, and there is sadness.

This one if perfect for horse-loving kids who like a bit of monster slaying!  There's enough of the family dynamic side of things so that it's not all monsters (the father-son dynamic is especially important to the story) which I appreciated, and likewise I appreciated that Matt has no extraordinary gifts; he does no better than any kid, rigorously trained atop a very experienced and brave horse might do, and he's a likeable and believable character.

There's no Native presence in the book; this is very much descendants of Spanish colonizers coping with a dump of problems caused by their ancestors.  But at least they are trying to do something about the problem....Girls are a bit off on the sidelines--there are women who are monster slayers, but Matt's family is just himself, his brother, and his dad.   There is one female horse character, who represents "girl power" very nicely, though.

So in short, a good fun read (with beautiful horses, each of whom has their own personality and place in the family circle).

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