I’m not normally one for witch stories, but these are brujas. I have to admit that I don’t see a lot out there that mix magical realism with Latinx characters, so I just had to give this one a shot and I’m so glad that I did. The reviews of several other book bloggers, particularly diverse book bloggers may have helped too.
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 marks 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…
That blurb doesn’t really begin to tell the reader the half of it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect spoilers in the blurb, but simply saying that she hates magic is a little off, in my opinion. She hates magic in that Elsa from Frozen kind of way. She’s not ridding herself of a measly amount of power that isn’t all that useful anyway or some part of herself that she doesn’t feel like she identifies with. She’s ridding herself of the dangerous power that she feels overwhelming her ability to control it and out of fear of what might happen were she to lose control. Sure, there are some other reasons in there and they are perfectly understandable ‘I wanna be a normal girl’ reasons, but I feel like those would have been manageable if not under the colossal weight of her power.
The setup is done well and I felt like I had a good grasp of the characters and where everyone stood when the plot took off. Then there’s Los Lagos and the insanity ensues. I enjoyed the darkness of it. Rather than Wonderland, which is what the back cover uses, I found Los Lagos reminded me of Oz. There is an order to things, no matter how unsettling they are and the inhabitants know what that order is. Moreover, each one is just trying to do the best they can within their circumstances in much the same way as the inhabitants of Oz. they have their own motivations that are not tied to our protagonist which makes them a bit unpredictable to her and to the reader.
The worlds that stories take place in are one of my favorite parts of reading, it’s why I tend to lean toward paranormal and science fiction and one of the things that’s been a new joy to historical fiction. I loved the world building of this book. It’s not just Los Lagos but also the world building to create this community of brujas and integrate them into Brooklyn. It’s beautifully done.
I look forward to the next installment!