I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebooks and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not change how I feel about this book.
Title: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)
Release date: September 6th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal/Fantasy, Magic
Verdict: 3.5 stars.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…
Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.
I originally picked this book up because the cover caught my eye immediately, and then when I heard it was about bruja magic (something I’ve only seen in one other book, Bruja (Alpha Girl #4) by Aileen Erin & in the TV show adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse series), I was completely enraptured. Everything from the family dynamic to the ancestry is sentimental and detailed by bringing the love for and history of this culture together in a powerful way.
I really wanted to like this book, but it stayed firmly in the middle of the road for me the entire time I read it. While I was expecting more emphasis on tradition and bruja magic, most of the first third of the book is completely focused on how “uncool” and “weird” magic is, with Alex firmly rejecting her family’s history, and her family itself, in favor of being “normal.” This is a really common occurrence in immigrant families, especially in the younger generation: the need to assimilate to fit in with the “average American lifestyle” for fear of being discriminated against or rejected outside of the home. Feelings like these are valid and understandable when met with a lot of adversity at school and from peers, but I had a hard time seeing why Alex was so selfish and whiny when interacting with her (pretty normal) family. I remember that feeling of “no one understands me, my parents won’t get it even if I talked to them!” when I was a teenager, but now that I’m in my 20s, it’s getting harder and harder to justify that an okay mindset to have.
When Alex and Nova get to Los Lagos, the story really starts to pick up in a positive way. I most enjoyed the imagery and the periodic introduction of new characters that help Alex and Nova on the “epic journey” to rescue her family. It follows the same pattern as any epic, and I firmly believe this works in the book’s favor and truly sold the story for me in the end. In addition, surprising me most of all due to the lack of build-up yet noted with a sympathetic narrative as the novel wraps up…the love triangle gets a lesbian twist and I’m 100% here for it. It was handled extremely well, if there are any LGBTQ bloggers on here who definitely look for that in YA lit, and there’s no dead lesbian syndrome in sight. This is also a huge win for Latina queer folks, who are a painfully underrepresented community and deserve their time in the limelight. Trying not to spoil it as much as I can — you’ll have to pick it up for yourselves!
Recommended for: People suffering from magic-oriented fantasy withdrawal until A Conjuring of Light is released, and people who love positive LGBTQ representation.
Are you also suffering from magic withdrawal? What books are you reading to hold you over until your next most-anticipated book is released? Let me know in the comments below!