by Zoraida Cordova
eARC, 336 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
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 marks 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…
I received an eARC through Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review.
What I Liked
🌙 The short bits from the Book of Cantos, stories, or songs at the beginning of each chapters
🌙 Great family representation! Alejandra family is not perfect, with an absent father and a ghost of dead godmother, but they present a very strong influence throughout the story. It’s everything she loved deeply, but also feared due to her heritage and what it represented. She has a close relationship with her sisters, but felt like no one understand her. The family is part of the conflict but no matter how Alex feels, their love and presence are the strongest part of the story.
🌙 Great coming of age story. The main conflict throughout the book is Alejandra being afraid of her powers and she has an amazing growth as the story progresses
🌙 So much is happening and the story is very fast paced
🌙 The vivid and lush description of Los Lagos. Everything just felt so real, from the scenery to its inhabitants, I wish we got more time exploring!
🌙 The diversity– obviously Alex’s family and Nova are latinx, but we also get Indian and Hindu representative from Rishi. Also, Alex is bi and we got some f/f romance!
What I Didn’t Like
🌙 I know I mentioned that I like the fast pacing, but at the same time, I feel like it’s too fast. It gives no time for the impact of events to sink to readers and did not allow for much character development. And despite the intricate world-building of Los Lagos, we didn’t experience much of it due to the plot keep moving forward. It’s like we’re listening to someone recounting their experience instead of actually experiencing Los Lagos.
🌙 I think this one is a personal thing, but I find the writing to be awkward due to the fact that I always hate it when authors use “I am lightning, I am (insert other “badass” metaphor here)” as a way for the character to describe themselves. I don’t mind if it’s used to describe other characters, but to describe yourself… it’s as if the characters are exaggerating their importance?
🌙 Our main character, Alejandra, is very whiny and entitled. Throughout the story she keeps mentioning how she hates this and that, how hard it is to be her, and other “woe is me” situations. She did not try to listen or understand her family as she’s so stuck in this mindset. She’s also demanding everyone’s help as if they owe her something, the biggest example was when she asked for Nova’s help at the beginning.
🌙 Poorly love executed love triangle. Look, I’m all for bi representation, but none of the love interest has chemistry with the Alex and both romance feels forced. None of the love interest were fully developed: Nova is the cookie-cutter for all “bad boys with smart mouth and dark past” while Rishi is the “sunshine and jokes” counterpart. And they keep fighting over Alex like the typical alpha-males love interests, complete with stare-downs, disparaging remarks, and “I know her better than you!!11!” dialogue.
While I like the minor elements and the idea of Labyrinth Lost, the execution of the major elements (writing style, character, romance) was disappointing. Nevertheless, it’s an imaginative and magical coming of age story with strong family bond and exciting plot.