Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

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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.

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

Published: September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire

Source: My bookshelf

Thoughts:

I was a long-time fan of the tv-show Charmed because aside from all the magical mysteries, it was a story about sisters who happened to be witches. Labyrinth Lost speaks to this enduring love for stories about magical families in a Latin American fantasy world with Alejandra a.ka. Alex, a heroine who is in the midst of her own coming of age story on so many different levels.

I liked how Alex’s story dives into how self-acceptance can be challenging – especially when you mistake a part of yourself – in this case, magic – as a weakness. Family is a constant presence in this story. I loved that the communal and generational aspects are shown too.

When I think of family, I think of Mom, Lula and Rose. When my mom thinks of family, she means everyone related to us by a single drop of blood and marriage.

There is also an abundance of powerful women within this story, including Alex’s Mama Juanita:

Mama Juanita – she could do everything. Command the elements. Heal the sick. Speak to the dead. She wrote her own cantos. And she made the best sopa de pollo in all of Brooklyn.

I also love how the loyalty, friendship and romance between Rishi and Alex is built up:

I get closer to her. Her brown skin is bathed in the starlight. Her long, dark hair is windblown and wild around her shoulders. Something in the pit of my stomach falls, and when she smiles at me, it just keeps falling.

Rishi is Guyanese and the Hindu mythos is also briefly touched upon as part of her own faith.

In terms of Latin American folklore, many supernatural beings such as the duende appear in this deadly but immersive adventure across an underworld known as Los Lagos. Amidst the high stakes, Alex’s bisexuality is shown as a realistic part of her self without outside judgment alongside her journey to understand what it means to be a bruja and rescue her family.

Labyrinth Lost is a YA urban fantasy book that my teen self would have appreciated even more for its adventure, diversity and coming of age story. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, which will follow Alex’s sister, Luna. Though I hope to glimpse more of Alex, Rishi and Nova, the intriguing but troubled brujo along the way. Thanks again to the #DSFFBookClub for giving me another reason to read this book.

 

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15 thoughts on “Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

  1. This book sounds gooood, and I’ve been seeing lots of great reviews for it! I’m glad to see that you’ve enjoyed it too and that there’s an abundance of powerful women – I always get a special kick whenever books have plenty of female characters who are all very strong in their own unique ways. I think I’ll be checking it out, thanks for the great review. 💗

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  2. I really need to know what’s happening with Nova in book 2! I know the story will focus on Lula, but I’m sure we’ll get glimpses into Alex and her little gang. Hopefully the scope of the story will expand as well. I’d love to see more of a magical Brooklyn.

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  3. Ah, this sounds so wonderful, Glaiza! I’ve been really keen to read your thoughts on this, and use them as a way of making myself get around to reading this glorious sounding book, and your review has definitely made me keener to read this!

    The characterisation sounds wonderful, and I’m really keen on the relationship Alejandra has with her family, and how they interconnect and those bonds, because that’s something that’s so beautiful and I’m enjoying a lot at the moment. Also seeing Alex and Rishi fall for each other, because that single quote promises that it’s going to be such a beautiful progression. The acceptance of Alex’s bisexuality is also something I’m excited for (I’ve got a lot of excitement for this book, apparently), because it sounds so… supportive, I guess is what I’m feeling. I really hope it is.

    Lovely, lovely review. I can’t wait to get myself a copy of this, and I hope you enjoy the second book as much as this one, Glaiza! xx

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    1. No worries Romi! It’s definitely an adventurous read with a very supportive familial environment present. I love highlighting the different relationships in the book and I’m glad they make readers more curious to pick it up.

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  4. This book is high on my TBR right now, and you’re just making me even more impatient to read it.

    “Family is a constant presence in this story. I loved that the communal and generational aspects are shown too.”

    This especially piques my interest. The absent-family cliche never fails to bother me, and I latch onto more realistic portrayals of familial relationships whenever I can find them. Thanks for pointing this out! =)

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    1. Absent families do feel unrealistic unless it’s really explained properly in a YA story. Alex’s family does technically disappear due to magic at the plot crux but their influence and connection is always there, which is nice to read.

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      1. Even with the magical disappearance, that’s much more realistic to me than “Oh, nine out of ten teen girls have parents who won’t notice if she doesn’t come home for a week straight” thing that so many YA books try so hard to convince me up. Sorry, books, but nope. Families sometimes actually do notice what’s going on with their teens’ lives.

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