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: 3.5/5 (2017 rating adjusted)
Book Name: Labyrinth Lost
Book Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Sourcefire Books
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!