Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantal Acevedo (Muse Squad #1)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Cover Artist: Jonathan Stroh
Summary: 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 are tasked with using 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?
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Review: Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse weaves together mythology, humor, adventure and much more to tell the story of Callie Martinez-Silva whose whisked away into the world of myths, legend, even magic after learning she’s one of the Greek Muses! Acevedo presents such a wonderful start to a fun middle grade duology!
Callie is an 11-year-old Cuban-American girl who is just going about her average life like enjoying concerts with her best friend, going to school, and trying to survive sixth grade, when lots of weird things start happening to her ― from a freak “almost” metro accident to turning her best friend Raquel into a new pop sensation, Callie’s life quickly takes some surprising turns.
But what she slowly begins to realize is in moments of peril or worry for those close by, Callie can inspire confidence in those around her. These events introduce her to the world of Greek Myths when she learns she’s one of the new Muses (Muse of Epic Poetry). After confirming this huge discovery, she learns that alongside her fellow muses, they are tasked with protecting a Fated One, a person destined to change the world, which turns out to be none other than her studious, “nerdy” classmate Maya Rivero. Befriending Maya and connecting more with the Muse Squad becomes a central part of Callie’s mission as she and the Squad attempt to stop the Cassandra Curse before its too late!
This book is an absolute whirlwind filled with tons of fun moments, but also never falters in presenting an important message about the hero within. Muse Squad was truly a joy to read because it not only delves into tons of themes and ideas, but seeing how the characters bounce off each other, even discovering more about how this world of myths blends into modern day, is so intriguing! What I loved the most was seeing how the story balanced the mythology with the average, everyday life stuff: highs and lows of friendship, family dynamics, school projects, and the hardships of growing up!
Told from a first person POV, Callie’s voice is what makes this story shine! Not only following her journey as a character, but also seeing how the writing successfully blends the magic, myths, humor, and adventure as the plot jumps across Miami, the world of Greek mythology, and the Muse Headquarters (the V&A Museum in London).
The story balances the magical elements alongside friendship and family incredibly well. Callie lives with her mom and twin brothers (Fernando and Mario), their dynamic is so strong and really a foundation for Callie who is also learning more about her family’s history when she learns that her aunt was a former Muse. Seeing this important thread help Callie to cope and also learn where she fits into the Muse world was a subtle but ever-present layer in her story. But on the other hand, Callie is also grappling with her own jealousy and insecurities as she’s unsure how to patch things up with her best friend Raquel who seems to be consumed by the life of fame after Callie’s Muse powers make her a dazzling pop star, who slowly changes throughout the story. There’s a sense of gloom for Callie who is unsure of how to reconnect with Raquel, but it also delves into all the emotions and how they take time to overcome. However, befriending Maya and the Muse Squad remind her she isn’t alone, plus also an ever-present idea that friendship is a process.
The characters all had their own unique quality to them and if you like stories with big casts, this book is definitely for you! Callie and Maya’s friendship was incredibly sweet, but seeing Callie learn to forge to new friendships even when she was still feeling down about reconnecting with Raquel was a highlight because the other Muse Squad girls were so fun: Thalia is the outgoing, funny one, Nia is a lover of science, and Mela is the more realistic one. What I loved the most was seeing all of them with Callie, their dynamic is truly something else when their all hanging out together and I adored that!
The magic system was interesting also, Acevedo establishes the mythological elements so well that for someone like me who just knows the basics, it still feels like something incredibly new. The magic is very unique to each character and seeing how that works in tons of different scenarios was great, but at its core the element of TEAMWORK truly shined! There’s also lots of great action scenes, mystery, and seeing how the Greek myths slowly blend their way into the story even more was always a surprise.
However, I did find it take a bit of time for me to understand the magic system better. The magical elements were somewhat confusing for me at first (due to it being from Callie’s POV while she herself was unsure what was happening), so slowly but surely I got adjusted to the rules of Muse world, but it quickly became the center of what made this story so lively! Genuinely loved seeing Callie embark on her own journey growing into her Muse powers, learning more about her Tia, and growing alongside her friends Thalia, Nia, Mela, and Maya.
Acevedo’s novel is without a doubt, the kind of story that will leave you feeling hopeful, while immersing you in the magical tale of myths and heroism. This is one of those books that left me with so much wonder, curious as to how much more of this world there is left to explore. The fun characters, voice, the heart of the story, messages, friendship, and sense of adventure came together in such an awesome way that leave the reader with just an introduction to this Muse Squad world.
Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse, is a fun, middle grade adventure that explores greek myths, carries inspirational messages throughout, and introduces readers to new group of heroes to root for! Inspirational and delightful, this is a fantastic duology opener that’s a refreshing, entertaining spin on classic myths!