Labyrinth Lost (Brooklynn Brujas #1)
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Publication: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+
Read: September 2016
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.
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.
Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book is totally action packed and exciting, though it could get a bit confusing. The world we travel to, Los Lagos, is such an expansive and well described world though I had issues picturing it sometimes. This story is full of magic, family, self-acceptance and just a little splash of romance. It was really fun and entertaining and I’m looking forward to the next book.
Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Cordova’s writing style is simple and easy to read. It’s descriptive and detailed but like I mentioned above, sometimes I had a hard time picturing things, though that could be just me. The narration and point of view is a bit dry because of the main character and I felt like I couldn’t feel from her enough. But I loved that it was fast paced and that it had so much Latinx influence and Spanish dialect in it.
Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s a huge cast of characters in this series but I feel like I didn’t get to know them as much as I wanted to. Alex is the narrator and our main character. She’s actually a bit selfish but it comes from a place of fear and worry. She’s reluctant (to say the least) to receive her powers and her family blessing and she does anything to stop it which causes a huge back fire that affects her entire family. However on her journey she becomes determined and powerful. Towards the end she’s remorseful and much more willing to embrace her destiny. Yet, even with all this emotional turmoil and trauma, I just felt like I didn’t get much emotion from her. I didn’t feel her pain or struggle as intimately as I wanted to. There are two side characters that get more attention in this book than the rest and I found both of them to be really different from each other. One is smart, sweet and funny. They have a very gentle personality but also tends to be really encouraging and positive. They also have great sassy comebacks that pretty much made my day. The other is a lot more mysterious and quiet. They put up a front to protect themselves but also come off as rude and uncaring at times which was annoying. Alex’s family is also a huge part of this book and while I loved their dynamic and how each member was a complex individual, I felt like I didn’t get to see Alex’s relationship with them as much because they were absent from her presence throughout most of the book. I hope that’s rectified in the next one.
I knew this book was going to be good, since I’m a fan of this author, but I had a hard time getting into it in the beginning.
The plot is intense. We follow Alex, a reluctant bruja (or witch but don’t call them that) who on her Deathday (kind of a like a witchy Quinceañera) manages to make her entire family disappear into a place called Los Lagos by accident and has to get them back. First of all, my favorite part about this book is how the world building is embedded with so much Latinx culture. Practically over-saturated with it and it’s magical and beautiful and just SO GOOD. And the best part about it is that it’s not just one country, it’s several. The author explains a bit of the inspiration for her ideas at the end of the book and she explains where she took from real life Latinx cultures to create her world and it’s so awesome. She has influences from Cuba, Mexico, her native country of Ecuador and more, so while I’m from none of those places, it still feels so inherently Latinx that I can’t help but feel identified even with the crazy fantasy and paranormal setting. Sometimes I had a hard time grasping the world of Los Lagos. Cordova described it very well, incredibly vividly in fact, but for some reason I still struggled with where things where and how things looked and the distance that the characters were traveling. Some of the different paranormal creatures were also a bit hard to imagine but I have to say that things got better as I got used to the setting. The plot itself was very fast paced and full of twists and turns. The trio on this particular journey encounter different paranormal creatures and residents of Los Lagos which made for entertaining brief encounters which helped them understand the bigger villain at play. I was really surprised by the ending because I assumed this particular conflict was going to prevail through the rest of the series but now it makes me even more interested and intrigued to see how the author is going to continue to develop the series.
I had trouble connecting with Alex. I don’t know if it was the writing style (which I doubt because I’ve connected with Cordova’s characters extremely well before) or Alex’s personality, but she felt almost dry and unemotional. She was going through a lot of tough situations and hardship but I just didn’t feel any emotional attachment or empathy toward her. She didn’t make me feel for her or feel her emotions like I like main characters to do when I read, I almost want to feel like what’s happening is happening to me, but that was impossible with her. However, I really enjoyed her character development. Throughout her Los Lagos journey, she learns a lot about herself and what she can do. She learns to accept her powers even if they scare her and she learns how to control them to the best of her abilities so they stop scaring her. My favorite part though is her acceptance to her heritage as a bruja. I think a lot of people can relate to that, sometimes feeling like you don’t feel comfortable about where you come from or that you don’t like all the details about your family and how they are. That’s how I manage to connect with her the most though it did take her awhile to get to that realization. You might have read in a review or heard from someone promoting this book that the main character is bisexual and the thing I love about that is the way that bisexuality is shown. For some reason, I find that sexual orientation to be the hardest to portray with respect and accuracy. I’ve seen people complain about various books with bisexual characters that they misrepresented and while I wouldn’t know, I feel like this one does a great job. The word is never written throughout the whole book as far as I remember, but Alex is without a shadow of a doubt bisexual. She feels attracted to and interested in both sexes. She can see a relationship developing with both sexes and it’s just so natural for her. She finds someone attractive and she thinks so and it never matters what gender they are because they’re both ones that she feels an interest toward. As I am not bisexual, I wouldn’t know if this is a good thing or not but it was a really honest approach in my opinion and I really liked it.
As for the side characters, I really loved Rishi. She’s amazing. She’s funny and charming and has this overall positive attitude that’s just really appreciated I think in these kinds of high fantasy, action packed, high stakes stories. I loved her friendship with Alex and how she took everything with such stride. It’s quite refreshing to know a character who has no idea about supernatural things existing and yet being totally cool with the idea once encountered with it. It’s new and unique and it definitely made me love her more. Nova on the other hand has always made me feel a bit wary. He’s mysterious and secretive and you don’t really understand his motives. He was kind of the typical bad boy who you want to see has a good side but he does everything to make sure you don’t really believe it completely. It was frustrating, specially when he made things worse for everyone but there’s hope for him yet I think. Alex also has a lot of family members as well as her immediate family and they all have an important role in this book. I loved seeing her relationship with them and how they all differ depending on who it is. However, I felt like I didn’t get to see enough of it. I knew it was coming since the synopsis says the family disappears but I didn’t realize I’d feel so attached to them so quickly so it was sad when I didn’t see more of them until the end.
Overall, I really liked this book. I loved the plot which was fast paced, action packed and entertaining. The world building of the mythical land Los Lagos took me a while to get used to but it was rich and expansive and well described. I had a few problems connecting with the main character but I loved the journey she went on in this book. I loved how much Latinx culture was infused into this book and the side characters were all unique and interesting. I can’t wait to see what the next book brings.
So that’s it for this review! I would love to know what you think of my thoughts. Let me know if you’ve read this book or if you’re thinking of reading it after this review. I also want to recommend Cordova’s New Adult series On the Verge because I think it’s amazing and really fun to read. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!