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Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas) Hardcover – September 6, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Alejandra Mortiz comes from a long line of powerful brujas (witches), although she has unsuccessfully tried to hide her powers from her family. They dismiss her disinterest as typical teenage behavior and continue to have high expectations of her and her abilities. At her Deathday celebration, a special ceremony where she is expected to take her place as a bruja and embrace her abilities, Alex rebels. Seeing magic as a curse, Alex rejects her destiny by secretly casting a canto (spell) to strip herself of magic but instead banishes her entire family to Los Lagos, the underworld. Horrified by what she has done, Alex is determined to make things right and free them. She embarks on a dangerous quest into the deadly underworld with the aid of the untrustworthy and handsome Nova and her nonmagical BFF Rishi. What they find is certainly more than any of them bargained for. This work is a magical journey from start to finish. Córdova's realistic world-building is the backbone of this engaging read. She spins a fantasy tale based in Latin American culture, with original mythology that rings true. Her focus on family and relationships, along with themes of loyalty, friendship, love, revenge, and being true to oneself, comes across effortlessly. A complex cast of characters drives the plot while keeping readers captivated. VERDICT A compelling must-have for teens.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
"Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine's journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family." -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix
"Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish." -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.
"Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic." -Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die
Top customer reviews
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Alejandra, the heroine, like many teens, wants to reject the path her family has mapped out for her: a path of magic, in this case, since the women of her family for many generations have been brujas, or witches. (I have usually seen bruja used to refer to the “black magic” kind of witch, as opposed to curanderas, who use magic to heal, but in this book the brujas usually use their powers for good.) In a ceremony meant to gain the blessing of her ancestors and cement her powers once and for all, she changes the procedure in an attempt to reject those powers and instead unwittingly banishes her mother, sisters, and other members of their circle to Los Lagos, an “in-between” realm, where they are under threat from a renegade bruja called The Devourer. Grief-stricken, Alejandra sets out on a quest to rescue them and defeat the Devourer, who is draining the life from Los Lagos’s residents as well as any brujas she captures.
I enjoyed the characters and their interactions. I thought the romance aspect of the book—in fact, there prove to be two romances—was particularly well handled. At first it developed in a predictable, but not overstated, direction, but then matters took several turns that I had not expected, though perhaps I should have. I also liked the interactions between Alejandra and her two sisters and between her and several older family members.
The fantasy element was also well developed. Part of it stemmed from Latin American beliefs and folklore, and part of it, including the inhabitants of Los Lagos, was created by the author. (She explains which was which at the end of the book, which I appreciated.) Both were interesting and well woven into the story.
All in all, this is an entertaining, suspenseful story with likeable characters and none of the elements that might bother some, such as explicit sex or violence. I also appreciated the fact that, although room was left for further adventures and “Book 1” in the title suggested that there would be some, this story was complete in itself, without the cliffhangers that can be so frustrating in series books.
This was such a wild ride of a book, a deep, living mythos populated by living, breathing characters with histories, passions, and wants. Córdova spares no details, but her writing is always fluid, painting a full picture of a world layered within our own, and one underneath it, exploring the motives and images that populate the underworld. There is a second-act introduction of the third member of the fabled love triangle, Rishi, who won my heart as a non-magical girl makings the best of a strange and dangerous world. While yes, the romance intrigues (with an arc and conclusion I loved), it's Alex's familiar relationships that drive the story and defeat the powers of evil. I loved it, and I'm so excited that two more Brooklyn Bruja books are on the way.
(Review also appears on my blog, Friend of Dorothy Wilde.)
When the spell backfires on her, Alex’s entire family is thrown into another world that she had only thought was something from a bedtime story- the realm of Los Lagos. Here is where her ancestors dwell and dark brujas are cast by the Deos, or gods. Los Lagos is also haunted by another who threatens to drain all the power within the realm, so a portal may be opened to the mortal world. The Devourer has a bounty on Alex’s head, or more dangerously, Alex’s magic. The young bruja soon learns that she is an encantrix, the most gifted bruja in her generation. And she must use her power to save her family with the help of a shady brujo named Nova.
Throughout Alex’s journey in Los Lagos, she learns that trust is something to be earned, and your wits and love can be more powerful than magic. She holds Nova at arm’s length through each trial- after all, why trust a boy who’s only coming along for the money? Still, Alex longs for answers and is intrigued by the brujo with strange tattoos marking his body. Even more than this, she wrestles with accepting the power inside her. She has to decide if she will put aside her fear and save not only her family but an entire realm, or if she will let The Devourer consume her. And in an ever-changing place like Los Lagos, Alex will have to look twice before believing what she sees.
Labyrinth Lost takes the reader on more than just your typical coming-of-age story where the heroine saves the day and learns to love herself. Alex is unique, not only in her heritage, but also in the legend surrounding her. Author Zoraida Cordova brings Ecuadorian mythology and culture to life along the backdrop of modern day Brooklyn with smooth, vibrant imagery. Personally, my mouth watered half the time by the mere mention of amazing food like guava and brie empanadas, but the world building of Los Lagos is also breathtaking. Many of the landmarks and trials are reminiscent of various world mythologies, and touch on stories many of us grew up with, like Alice in Wonderland.
The relationships in the book don’t fall short either. Ribbing between sisters brings plenty of giggles, as does the wrenching loneliness of an absent father. The tepid friendship between Alex and Nova keeps the reader guessing until the very last stunner of a page. Rishi’s part in Alex’s life also defies cookie-cutter development as a sweet, innocent young love blossoms between the two girls. Still, Alex’s feelings toward her best friend and a troubled boy never detract from the mission at hand but instead interweave between plot points expertly and add life and hope when Alex has none. All in all, this novel charmed me like an attraction canto, leaving me wanting to know what kind of destiny the encantrix will fall into next.
Most recent customer reviews
Unfortunately, this awesome premise was spoiled by the--by and large--predictable plot and barebones detail.Read more