middle grade mystery
Review,  Middle Grade,  Mystery

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil by Danette Vigilante @jollyfishpress @danettevigilante // middle grade mystery

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil was interesting middle grade mystery with latinx culture and characters and a good message for young readers.

middle grade mystery

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil by Danette Vigilante

Publication Date : August 17th 2021

Publisher : Jolly Fish Press

Genre : Middle Grade / Mystery

Pages : 208

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley.
This post contains affiliate link.


Tia Lugo considers herself an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl. She just wants to enjoy the end of summer, which means hanging out with her best friend and neighbor, Julius, and ignoring her Puerto Rican grandmother’s embarrassing reliance on creepy candles, weird-smelling herb bundles, and eerie statues—all available for sale at the nearby botanica. But when Tia witnesses a murder late one night from her bedroom window, everything changes in an instant.

Now, Tia is terrified to tell anyone what she’s seen. What if the killer comes after her too? He knows where she lives. Even worse, Tia believes he’s sending her secret messages, reminding her to stay quiet. Desperate to keep herself and her family safe, Tia turns to the last place she ever thought she’d go: her grandmother’s favorite shopping spot, the botanica.

Early Praise for Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil

“The ever-escalating suspense will keep the pages turning throughout this thrilling upper-middle-grade mystery.”—Booklist

“A multigenerational thriller that will warm your heart, even as it has you looking over your shoulder.”—Ernesto Cisneros, Author of Efrén Divided and Falling Short

“A bite-your-nails mystery, with a side of humor, that’ll have you zipping through the pages!”—Tami Charles, New York Times bestselling author

“You don’t have to come from a world with botanicas to want to light a candle to protect you from the creepy twists and turns of this book. Campfire scary with a city feel.”—Torrey Maldonado, author of Tight, What Lane, and Secret Saturdays 

“Pulses will race as Tia grapples with fear and terrible danger, digging deep to find courage in friendship, tradition, and her own fierce love for her family and neighbors.”—Jennifer Torres, author of Stef Soto, Taco Queen

“An exciting read and a page-turner with attention paid to Tia’s emotional life, her neighborhood, and her family, more than you usually get in a ‘thriller’ type book.”—Kurtis Scaletta, author of Rooting for Rafael Rosales

“We can’t help but feel drawn to Tia and wish for her safety and success in this engaging urban murder-mystery. Danette Vigilante keeps readers on the edge of their seats right up to the end!”—Hilda Eunice Burgos, Ana María Does Not Live in a Castle

“A poignant and nail-biting mystery that left me guessing until the very end! Danette Vigilante has crafted a loving community of diverse, well-rounded characters, making the danger lurking for Tia all the more nerve-wracking and the resolution that much more of a relief. A highly recommended roller-coaster ride!”—David Bowles, author of They Call Me Güero


Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil was Middle Grade mystery that revolved around Tia witnessing a murder that changed her life and filled with paranoia. The story was about friendship, family, honesty, trust, fear, belief, hope, not letting fear control you, courage, and love.

Writing was lucid, fast paced and atmospheric with apprehension and fear character felt. It was written in first person narrative from Tia’s POV. The setting of Tia’s neighbourhood in NY was well described.

Plot was interesting that started with Tia excited about survival camp but it was squashed with murder she witnessed a night before she was supposed to leave for camp. She was terrified of what she witnessed and then murderer seeing her on the window and signalling not to tell a soul. She felt guilty for not telling anyone but she thought staying silent would save her and family from murderer’s retribution. It was interesting to see who was the murderer, would she able to confide in anyone before it was too late, what would she do if murderer came for her even after staying silent.

Tia was interesting character. She had asthma and author represented kid with asthma really well. At first Tia sounded normal teenage kid, having asthma attack on night of murder and how witnessing it terrified her. Her reaction to it was natural and genuine. I could feel her fear for her family but as story progressed her lies and determination and how she behaved to keep it secret started to feel frustrating. She felt guilty for lying and keeping witnessing murder a secret and yet she behaved exactly opposite of it. And it kept going on until almost 70% of the book. her development was really late in the book. And yet I liked how she realised keeping things in and letting fear rule herself and her life wasn’t going to keep her or her family safe.

Best part of the book was Tia’s friendship with Julius. Julius was lovely kid. He was smart, wise and honest. He told Tia right thing to do even though she wasn’t ready for it. I felt sad for him when she behaved badly with him. He was her true friend and I liked him for sticking with her helping her when she needed even with their differences caused by Tia’s decision.

All characters were realistic. I liked knowing Tia’s family and people in her neighbourhood. Cultural background and elements were well written. Tia and her family were Latinx who believed in botanica and all spiritual things. It was important aspect of the story. It was interesting to read about Tia’s grandmother’s beliefs and myths, botanica store she visited, and all weird things she bought to protect her family.

I liked the message in the book about burden of carrying secret, not letting fear rule you, why people believe in superstitions or religious and spiritual things and how it gives people hope but strength one need to have courage and face the problem are there within everyone without need of spiritual things.

Twist and turns were predictable. I could guess who was the murderer even before it was revealed in climax. I liked how Tia fought and learned her mistakes. End was lovely and satisfactory.

Why 3.5 stars-

I had a little high expectations with this book. Like I said, I was little disappointed with main character. It was frustrating after certain points in the story. I felt there was too much focus or Tia’s paranoia making the story a little melodramatic.

Overall, Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil was unique and enjoyable middle grade mystery with well written cultural aspect.

You will enjoy this if you like,
Latinx culture
middle grade murder mystery
good message for young readers
Atmospheric plotline

Book Links

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | Indiebound | Bookshop
Jolly Fish Press | North Star Editions – Current promos on our websites: 30% off fall release pre-orders using code FALL21 ·  Free shipping when you spend over $30

Buy mystery for young readers – Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk |Amazon.in

About Author

Danette Vigilante grew up in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, New York. She now resides in Staten Island with her family, sweet pup, and an elderly cat who has just learned to meow. Danette is the author of The Trouble with a Half Moon, a 2012-2013 Sunshine State Young Readers award nominee, and Saving Baby Doe, a 2014 pick for the New York Public Library 100 titles for Reading and Sharing list. Danette encourages literacy in her community via a Little Free Library installed on her front lawn.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | facebook | goodreads

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What do you think about this book and review? Have you read this already or any book by the same author? Which is your favourite book feature character with Asthma or any heath condition?


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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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