Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6th 2016
Source: Own, Netgalley
Amazon, Barnes & Noble , The Book Depository
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 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, but she just wants to be a normal girl. I loved Alex’s struggle because it’s so relatable to anyone. Seeing her explore her identity while at the same time trying not to disappoint her family was so real. What was especially endearing about Alex was that you could see she was flawed, and yet she still tried her best. Another thing I loved about her in the book was that we got to see her struggling with her newfound powers, and how she didn’t want to succumb to darkness. She had a struggle within herself because she wanted to be powerful but didn’t want that power to overwhelm her. Alex was definitely a well-rounded character and I loved her so so much.
It’s so unapologetically infused with Latinx culture from the very beginning, which made it easier for me to connect with the book. Alex’s family is huge, and composed of both immediate and extended family. They all have a huge influence in Alex’s personal story, and I loved seeing how her family represented Latinx families so well. I felt right at home.
I loved reading about the Deathday ceremony which was reminiscent of the Quinceañera or the Sweet 16, but with significantly more blood and ghosts 😅 . I could see elements from different Latinx cultures, with certain original twists that were great because I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Los Lagos is so amazing. It’s been called a “dark” Wonderland and it really does feel like that. Or, reminiscent of the Labyrinth in the David Bowie movie, Labyrinth. Los Lagos is colorful and beautiful, but not as it seems. Full of magical creatures, mysteries, and deception, it was really interesting to try and decipher what was real and what was a trick.
Zoraida’s writing is really great. From the tone of the book it’s easy to see it’s narrated by a teen, but it doesn’t feel too juvenile or simplistic. The descriptions and action scenes are so captivating, and easy to follow. The book itself was difficult to put down just because once a chapter ended, you just had to see what was going to happen.
I REALLY LOVED THE ROMANCE HERE. This is a slight spoiler but I honestly think it’s important to mention. Alex is bisexual (not mentioned on page, but confirmed by the author), and honestly from the beginning of the book you could see that Alex was crushing super hard on Rishi, her best friend. The way Alex described her, to the way her demeanor changed whenever Rishi was around her made it more than obvious to me that there was something going on. Rishi also says and does things that obviously screamed “these girls are in love with each other!” to me, which is why I’m so surprised that there are people that invalidate their romance. The romance is nuanced and slow burn, but at the same time SO FREAKING OBVIOUS.
As far as diversity goes, I’ve already mentioned the incredible Latinx representation here. Alex doesn’t particularly say she’s a certain ethnicity, but does mention she has Ecuadorian, Puerto Rican, and Mexican ancestry. I like that in a part of the book she talks about not feeling of a certain ethnicity because Brooklyn feels like her home, which is an issue I struggle with sometimes as well. This is the diasporic feeling many children of immigrants face, and Zoraida captured it really well. We then have Nova, who’s Puerto Rican (YESSSSS), and Rishi, who’s Guyanese (Indo-Guyanese). We also have sapphic representation from the romance between Alex and Rishi, and also with family members of Alex who are part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. The book is #ownvoices in terms of Latinx rep because the author is Ecuadorian 🙂
My only gripe with the book which is what made me drop a star from my writing, was that it incurred a bit in ableist language. Alex would describe things going on as “crazy” or “insane”, which, I get these words have become common adjectives, but there are better words to use. There’s also a use of the word “bipolar” to describe heterochromic eyes, that was used a couple of times in text, which seemed unnecessary.
Overall, I really recommend Labyrinth Lost. I think it’s an incredibly written fantasy book with an almost completely Latinx cast of characters, a bisexual main character, twists, turns, and magic! I can’t wait to read book two!
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