That's right, we are in MASSACHUSETTS!
This is book number 1 in the Pilar Ramirez Duology series.
The Land of Stories meets Dominican myths and legends come to life in Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa, a blockbuster contemporary middle-grade fantasy duology starter from Julian Randall. Fans of Tristan Strong and The Storm Runner, here is your next obsession.
"A breathtaking journey . . . readers better hold on tight." —Kwame Mbalia, New York Times bestselling author of the Tristan Strong series
Twelve-year-old Pilar Violeta “Purp” Ramirez’s world is changing, and she doesn’t care for it one bit. Her Chicago neighborhood is gentrifying and her chores have doubled since her sister, Lorena, left for college. The only constant is Abuela and Mami’s code of silence around her cousin Natasha—who vanished in the Dominican Republic fifty years ago during the Trujillo dictatorship.
When Pilar hears that Lorena’s professor studies such disappearances, she hops on the next train to dig deeper into her family's mystery. After snooping around the professor's empty office, she discovers a folder with her cousin’s name on it . . . and gets sucked into the blank page within.
She lands on Zafa, an island swarming with coconut-shaped demons, butterfly shapeshifters, and a sinister magical prison where her cousin is being held captive. Pilar will have to go toe-to-toe with the fearsome Dominican boogeyman, El Cuco, if she has any hope of freeing Natasha and getting back home.
"Magic awaits around every corner in Zafa. Nonstop action and plenty of heart create a story worth escaping into." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A New England Independent Book Association's Spring 2022 Windows & Mirrors List Pick
A Washington Post 2022 Summer Book Club Pick
A 2023 New York Public Library Vibrant Voices Pick
"A breathtaking journey through a world teeming with fantasy and history—readers better hold on tight as Pilar swings into her next adventure." —Kwame Mbalia, New York Times bestselling author of the Tristan Strong series
“Randall takes history and myth and weaves a tight fantasy that is as funny as it is poignant. This novel is sure to delight and awe.” —Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award Winner
* "Magic awaits around every corner in Zafa. Nonstop action and plenty of heart create a story worth escaping into." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Fusing a vibrant, self-assured narrative voice; subtly wrought intergenerational concerns; and rich, Dominican-inspired worldbuilding, Randall creates an undeniable page-turner." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review
* "Pilar is fierce, honest, and funny, a heroine readers are sure to love. Action-packed and engaging from start to finish, this is a great next read for fans of Rick Riordan and Alane Adams." –School Library Journal, starred review
"I love this book so much. Julian Randall is a brilliant, refreshing new voice in young people's literature and he has imbued this story with a whole mountain of love, humor, honesty, and adventure. ¡Pa'lante!" —Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author
"Incredible voice that jumps right off the page. Pilar is the hilarious hero we need right now. My Dominican heart BURST reading this story, but in the best way." —Claribel A. Ortega, author of Ghost Squad
"A superb addition to the fantasy genre, particularly those grounded in world history." —Booklist