Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

labyrinth-lost

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 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…

This is a book of wonders. 

Labyrinth Lost is a blend of fantasy and adventure filled with dark creatures and magic, captivating but terrifying otherworlds, but, at its heart, is a powerful tale about family, love, and identity. The balance between fantasy and thematic is delicate, but the protagonist, Alejandra, and her journey to save her family and self-discovery is the driving force of the story. The results are spectacular; what we get is a story that stretches the imagination but is also full of heart.

I wonder what it’s like in other households during breakfast. Do their condiment shelves share space with consecrated cemetery dirt and blue chicken feet? Do their mothers pray to ancient gods before they leave for work every morning? Do they keep the index finger bones of their ancestors in red velvet pouches to ward off thieves?

The beauty of this book lies mostly in the immersive world that Córdova has created. The strong Latinx mythos and influence inherent in the novel integrated wonderfully with Alejandra’s world and perspective. The narrative is rich with minute but vivid details with beautiful imagery, found in the spaces of Alejandra’s home and community in Brooklyn as well as the magical and dangerous world of Los Lagos. Undoubtedly an adventure story at heart, reading Labyrinth Lost teleported me to worlds I had never visited before, something utterly unfamiliar and new, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The characters of Labyrinth Lost are marvelous, and offered a diversity of perspectives and voices. The representation in this novel was wonderful, including healthy bisexuality representation and cultural representation. The portrayal of sisterhood was gorgeous, and I related to the relationship between Alex and her sisters, Lula and Rose. Though I loved Alex, especially for her flaws, I connected so much with Lula, who is the eldest sister and feels so much responsibility to guide Alex and help her understand and connect to her identity. Rose is a bit more of an enigma, but I have a feeling we will see more of her in the future books. I loved that Labyrinth Lost explores so much about family, and how it is associated with our sense of belonging, our sense of who we are and how it shapes our identity, as well as our connection to heritage.

I’m just a girl, and there is also magic in that.

Labyrinth Lost also offers a subtle but meaningful discourse on belonging and identity. While her family have a deep and close connection to brujeria and its traditions and practices and the only person at school who doesn’t think her weird is the fierce and kind Rishi, Alex feels like she doesn’t quite fit anywhere. As Alex ventures to Los Lagos to right her wrongs, Alejandra finds more than what she is looking for: she also finds strength, herself, and the deep bonds that hold her world together.

The book does have its shortcomings – the writing felt jumpy in some instances, the romance a little watered (though the ending was gorgeous), and I would have loved to see more development in some characters – but they did not detract from my reading experience.

Imaginative, ultimately empowering, and filled with all kinds of magic, Labyrinth Lost is a wonderful gem of a book. Though it is a fantasy and adventure, I also think that Labyrinth Lost is a coming-of-age – one with a satisfying and excellently developed trajectory. Reading Labyrinth Lost was like entering a completely new world, one that has opened my eyes and broadened my horizon. And what a beautiful sight to behold.

Rating: 4/5

Book Information
Book Name: Labyrinth Lost
Book Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Sourcefire Books
Format: eBook


I read this book for Latinx Heritage Month when I realized, with shame, that I haven’t read any Latinx narratives or many stories written by Latinx writers (with the exception of The Alchemist). I am so, truly glad I read this though. If you do get around to reading this lovely book, I highly encourage you to also read the Author’s Note!

  • Have you read Labyrinth Lost? What did you think of it?
  • What did you read for Latinx Heritage Month? It ends on October 15th, so if you need recommendations, I can point you in the right direction!
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34 thoughts on “Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

  1. Lovely review! I agree with your rating. It wasn’t a perfect book but it’s such a fun and unique reading experience. The highlights for me were the obstacles they had to overcome in Los Lagos and the creatures/people they met there!
    I also appreciated the positive representation of bisexuality. I don’t remember if the words “bi” or “bisexual” were used, but I was satisfied with how Alex was depicted and the romance aspect felt right to me. Yes, the ending was so wonderful! <3
    Thank you for reading and promoting Latinx voices this month, CW. I was pleased to hear you also read Junot Diaz and enjoyed his writing. Given that you're from New Zealand, it's understandable you haven't had much exposure to Latinx narratives. For you to actively seek these stories out, however, speaks volumes about your love of all stories and commitment to diversity in literature. Thanks for all you do!

    • Hi Naz!

      Ooh, absolutely. I had no idea what to expect when I read about Los Lagos in the summary, but I was pleasantly surprised.

      Agreed! I’ve been reading a lot of stories with bi protagonists lately, and I really love how the narratives are unique and different. I particularly loved the romance in Labyrinth Lost though, it was subtle and well-done.

      It is my pleasure! I’m so happy to participate and amplify Latinx voices, esp ownvoices. ^_^ Ahh, and thank YOU for everything you do — and fore recommending me these books in the first place!! <3

  2. Labyrinth Lost is amazing, I read it a while back and I was completely surprised by the ending. Honestly I expected it to be a classic heterosexual romance kind of thing which made the ending so much more special. Fantastic review btw! I hadn’t thought if it as a coming of age story but I can really see it now!

    • Hi Brigitte!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it too! I completely agree. I thought the romance was lovely, though I’d love to see more of Rishi in the series.

      I really liked the cliff-hanger/ending – it made me excited for the sequel without detracting the good things of the first book.

      Thank you so much! <3

    • Hi Capt’!

      I did too! I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s perspectives. I think it’s the kind of book that appeals to a wide audience because of the themes. :) Thanks so much for sharing your post! I’ll go and read it now!

  3. Beautiful review! Labyrinth Lost is definitely on my tbr but gosh, your review just makes me want to go on Amazon and buy a copy straight away! As a fantasy lover, I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this one quite a lot when I finally get around to reading it. (And thanks for such an in depth review by the way. Your reviews are always so thoughtful and I really got a sense of what this book is about by reading your review. <3 )

    – Rachana @ Spun

    • Hi Rachana!

      Thank you so much! Oh goodness, I’m glad you found my review so persuasive! XD I think you will love it! It’s very different to what I’ve read (which is a wonderful thing) and I loved the Latinx narrative underlying it too.

      Oh gosh, thank you so much. That means so much to me. <3 Thank you for reading, Rachana!

  4. I gave the same rating for this book as well! I absolutely loved the world building, family dynamic, and the diversity. Although I thought some of the characters could use some work which may happen in the sequel hopefully. Great review! :)

    • Hi Heather!

      Yes, I saw your review on GR! (Which was great, by the way!) I definitely agree with you there – I wanted to see more of Rishi and see her developed more, but I have a feeling we’ll see more of her in the sequel!

      Thanks so much! <3

  5. I’m so glad you read this book! I also read it last month in the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month and will be reviewing it next week I believe. I totally agree with your thoughts and I’m glad you checked out a Latinx book specially this one since I think it does a great job with a representation of a very wide range of cultures and customs in Latinx countries. Her New Adult series is one of my favorites and one of those books is the one which I’ve felt best represented in the entire world and I hope you check out more of Zoraida’s work 😃

  6. Great review! I have read a number of reviews for Labyrinth Lost recently, and I think yours has been the most persuasive to me thus far. Teleporting you to worlds unexplored? Fantasy AND adventure? Diversity? Ohyes. All these things are wins for me.

    • Hi Jackie!

      Ooh wow! Well, yes, READ IT. <3 It definitely checks off all the boxes – and does it in a way that is completely genuine and NOT about just checking off the boxes, if you know what I mean? It's a great read, and I hope you enjoy it when you read it!

  7. That picture is gorgeous! You’re so talented.

    Omg I need to start reading faster! There is a stack of books on my floor right now I am determined to get through before I buy anything new, but it is taking forever! I am adding this to the looong list of books I’m going to get once my buying ban is lifted.

    • Hi Lydia!

      Aw, thank you so much! I’m so happy with how it turned out in the end. HAHA I know what you mean! I have all these books that I need to read… but when it comes down to getting through my list, I always seem to get something that is NOT on my TBR?! I’m the most terrible mood reader.

      But yaas, read it! It’s great, and I think you’ll enjoy it!

  8. Oh first, I had no idea The Alchemist was written by a Latinx author! Anyways. I am really excited to get to Labyrinth Lost! It sounds like such a refreshing read, with a focus of family, fantasy, and culture.

    I’m really going to have to check to see if this is at the library.

    • Hi Val!

      To be honest, I didn’t connect the dots when I read it too. But now that I know, it has encouraged me to view The Alchemist in another way. ^_^
      It’s a great read, and I really hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read it!

  9. Spectacular review!

    “The representation in this novel was wonderful, including healthy bisexuality representation and cultural representation.”

    How refreshing! I’ve only heard wonderful things about this one. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

  10. Interesting take on the relationship between the sisters – I grew up with a brother rather than a sister, so I don’t tend to pick up on sister stuff, but now that you’ve pointed it out, I totally agree! :)

  11. First of all, you knocked it out of the park again with your artwork for the book. The cover is so gorgeous, so I am glad to see you pay homage to it with your talent :D! This book sounds incredibly beautiful, and I love the rich mythology as well and vibrant family relationship it seems to portray. Diversity and family are two things sorely underrepresented in YA fantasy, so it makes me glad to see them both championed in this novel. I will have to check this out at some point. Fantastic review, CW!

  12. Pingback: October Recap: Being real; my journey with health & learning from my failures | Read, Think, Ponder

  13. Pingback: Book Recs: #OwnVoices of 2016! | Read, Think, Ponder

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