Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost

Book - 2016
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"Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she's hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. When a curse she performs to rid herself of magic backfires and her family vanishes, she must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland, to get her family back"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Naperville, Illinois :, Sourcebooks Fire,, [2016]
ISBN: 9781492620945
1492620947
Characteristics: 324 pages : map ; 22 cm

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One of my favorite elements of this novel was the world building. Drawing on Ecuadorian, Spanish, African, Mexican, and Caribbean backgrounds, Córdova blends folk traditions, syncretic religions like Santeria and other combinations of Catholicism and native religious ideas and practices, with urban Latinx speaking patterns. Everything melded together beautifully to create a rich magical world that feels uniquely Latin American. In many ways it reminded me of J.K. Rowling's use of European magical and folk traditions that influenced the type of magic and creatures that were featured in Harry Potter.

On top of the fantastic world building, I loved the themes of familial love, embracing your power, and navigating the "in between".

Often fantasy stories feature heroes or heroines from broken families or characters that have grown up without a family. Instead, Alex has a loving, if sometimes irritating, family as well as her extended family and the bruja community. Her father is missing in this book and Alex is convinced he left because of a sinister event while her sisters and mother believe he's merely missing. Despite her father's absence, her family is her world. And after their disappearance Alex fights to find them and save them.

Additionally, much like the Akata Witch series that I've reviewed previously, I appreciated the character development in this book. We see Alex at the start of the novel as a shy awkward girl, uncomfortable with her differences and her power. However, by the end of the novel, Alex has learned to embrace who she is and that she is powerful and radiant. *I'm not crying, you're crying!* To me some modern YA fantasy books shy away from demonstrating true character growth, which is why I'm very pleased with the main character in particular.

Lastly, throughout the book Alex is in the middle of a crossroads or intersections of different identities, decisions, and desires. I applaud any author that can demonstrate the dichotomies that many people from diverse backgrounds face. Along with being between the non-magical world and world of brujas, Los Lagos itself is a world in between, and she's in between childhood and adulthood. And something I think is important to include here is the fact that, yes there is a love triangle, however, this love triangle is between Alex and a female and a male love interest. This was not explicitly stated anywhere on the synopsis but I think it's an important point. It might be a little spoiler-y but I loved how natural both love interests were. The scenes were normal and not exaggerated. I've read a number of articles that discuss how bisexual relationships are often misconstrued and that bisexual women are often depicted as homewreckers and are supposedly prone to infidelity. All terrible stereotypes. Thus I was really happy to see a bisexual character where their sexuality wasn't the main focus of the story and also was not throw in for drama.

My only critique of this book is that I did get a bit tired about hearing how sexy Nova, the brujo, is and how apparently he always seemed to have his shirt off. Don't get me wrong, I love a crush-worthy love interest, it just seemed like the references to his physical attractiveness was too much. Moreover, at just over 300 pages, the plot seemed a bit rushed. The book is jam-packed with world building and character relationships; I wish it could have been slowed down just a bit to allow even more development. Lastly, I saw the plot twist about allegiances a mile off. But that didn't irk me too much because the characters and world were imaginative and endearing.

KateHillier Apr 06, 2018

Wow. This was fantastic. A well woven, intricate, and so family oriented coming of age story by way of witchcraft, and a blend of Alice in Wonderland with Dante's inferno.

Alex's family are brujas, witches, and Alex has never been comfortable with it. There are very solid reasons for that and very solid reasons for her taking her 16th birthday and Deathday as an opportunity to use magic to wish her powers away. This backfires tremendously as her entire family vanishes. Alex and her friends go on a long and hard journey for a shot to get them back. It is hard journey in more than the obvious.

The world is dark but the change Alex makes and the support she had throughout is just magical.

AL_LAURA Feb 07, 2018

A girl must travel through perilous danger to save her family and accept the fate she never wanted. Features a bisexual main character

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PinesandPrejudice
Jan 22, 2018

Goodness, thank heavens that's over. This story started with a strong premise and an interesting world. But seriously, I was dragging myself through this book.

Honesty to goodness the worst part was the characters. I wasn't rooting for any of them. They all were flat and boring and one dimensional. Their motives and actions made no sense to me and I thought they were all acting before thinking and it got very annoying after seven, eight, nine times.

Another repetitive thing was the trials in Los Lagos. How many times do you have to face the evil lady before she just incinerates your ass? Or you destroy hers (which apparent all that took was some faith, trust, and pixie dust -- because the development there was too quick and unrealistic). This whole world as created, couldn't we throw some more elements to it than creepy monsters and dead relatives with advice or necessary exposition?

The romance was so silly. Rishi was a huge disappointment because her whole purpose was to love Alex. She had no life or concern of her own. I mean, does she have parents? Or siblings? Or a life other than her best friend who is the chosen one? No? Okay -- just another generic best friend character who turns into love interest.

Yes, I appreciated the diversity and the different magical system. I even appreciated the family element, especially with the sisters. But Alex was ridiculous, for all her talk about loving and trusting her family, she didn't even trust them enough to be like "Hey, my power is dangerous. Since I've never picked up a canto in my whole life, you think you experienced brujas might be able to help with this?" Could have saved everyone a lot of time. Including me.

ArapahoeBridget May 09, 2017

This is a really interesting story. I was thrilled by the romance aspect that I didn't anticipate, I loved the family and friendship bonds that wove through all elements of the story, and I really enjoyed that so much of the story defied simple definitions of wrong and right. It's a good choice if you like urban fantasy and are looking for something new.

r
rnpudel
Mar 15, 2017

Such a unique premise with great writing. It's a well-written YA fantasy with brujas. I'd certainly suggest it.

d
dodieo
Oct 27, 2016

For being an awesome hero(ine)'s quest with a brown girl and awesome world-building and romance and also lots of Dante references.

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VigilanteReads
Oct 23, 2016

I love books with magic. I love books with queer characters. So I knew I’d probably at least like this book which had both. This book also has really interesting family dynamics. A magic system and culture that is much more diverse than I’ve seen in other books. They are brujas, not witches. Plus, a really awesome protagonist that I rooted for throughout the whole book.

Even when Alex was making bad decisions like one that would probably get her entire family sent to another dimension I understood what she was going through and wished the best for her.I love the journey that Alex goes on in this book. From not wanting her powers to doing whatever she needs to do to get her family back.

I never really liked Nova or Rishi much throughout the book. I was following the journey for Alex. Rishi defaults to comedy intense situations sometimes and it didn’t really work for me. It just annoyed me sometimes. Nova’s attitude just really ticked me off. Especially his attitudes toward the fauns and other creatures of Los Lagos. That may be because the creatures stories affected me. I was really feeling what they had to go through under the rule of The Devourer. Especially Madra and Agosto doing what they could for their people.

The conflict is mostly external conflict on the surface even with all the changes Alex goes through and I didn’t have a problem with that. I liked that they focused on the task they set out to accomplish on their journey. However, I felt like there wasn’t enough in some ways. Seeing Alex’s development more or her relationships. It may just be because of not really liking what we see of Nova and Rishi but I don’t think it was that necessarily. The story didn’t feel like I thought it should by the end.

Still, there was a lot of striking language and images.The way Los Lagos and the magic is described really grabbed me. Plus so many other wonderful things about the book. I heard there will be two more books. one from each of Alex’s sisters and I’m excited for that. Especially if we get more magic.

s
shayshortt
Oct 14, 2016

I was engaged by the characters and the mythos that Cordova was building, but tended to lose interest in the obstacles that they faced. I was much more interested in the dynamic between the characters.

Thoroughly engaging from start to finish! Alex is a satisfyingly down-to-earth narrator, and I relished the fact that the romantic subplot doesn't go the way many readers might expect.

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jke3322
Oct 10, 2016

jke3322 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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shayshortt
Oct 14, 2016

Alejandra Mortiz is a powerful bruja, or she would be if she hadn’t been supressing her power ever since her father’s disappearance several years earlier. But when events cause her to lose control, her power is revealed to her family, and generations of brujas and brujos begin planning her Deathday. There she will receive the blessing of her family, living and dead, and her power will be cemented. But Alex doesn’t want to be a bruja. She sees the price her mother and sisters pay for their powers, and wants no part of it. But what if giving up her power comes with a price even greater than using it?

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shayshortt
Oct 14, 2016

When we were children, they would scare us to sleep with stories of maloscuros under the bed. But we aren’t like normal families. Our monsters are real. Sometimes we are the monsters.

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