Saturday, 22 April 2017

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CórdovaLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (proof) - 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...
From Goodreads.

When I first heard about Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, I was so eager to read it. An #OwnVoices novel with Latin American witches? Sold! But, sadly, this book just wasn't for me.

I probably should have known, with Los Lagos being described as "as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland." I am not a fan of Alice in Wonderland because it's just too weird, too much weird, and Los Lagos has that similar feel. Alex has to travel through Los Lagos to get to the labyrinth where her family are being held by The Devourer, who, during the eclipse, will drink their power through the Tree of Souls. But on her way there with Nova, she comes across obstacle after obstacle. The creatures were fine - the avianas, which are kind of like bird-women, and the adas, who are practically fae - but it's just the one thing after another.

And considering the danger they're in most of the time, they get out of scrapes too easily, they've got past an obstacle before you know it. And there were just too many things I felt weren't explained well enough. Alex will create an orb of light, or she'll shoot magic out of her hands... but how? How is she doing that? There's no real explanation as to how she uses her magic, she just does. And for someone who has been forcing down her magic for so long and not using it, she knows exactly what to do with it when it's needed. There is no, "XYZ would be the perfect solution right now, but I don't know how to do that!" She just does it. She reaches for her magic, and it happens. And then they move on.

I also found things were a little too easy, too convenient in other ways to be believable. When Rishi, Alex's best friend who she is in love with, finds out that Alex is a bruja, there's complete acceptance. I can't really talk about this in more detail without spoilers, so don't click the button if you haven't read the book but plan to.

And the Devourer. What was going on with her? Why didn't we know more? Sure, she was once a bruja who was banished to Los Lagos by the Deos, but why? What did she do? Why was she so eager for power? Just because, it seems. She just wanted power. But we've had that storyline before. Can't our villains be a little more complex? Just wanting power to have all the power and to rule and take over everything just isn't really good enough any more.

Then there's Alex and her issues with her magic in the first place. Something happened when she was younger, but what that was, I couldn't really tell you. For whatever reason, her dad left. Or disappeared, or something. And she's been terrified of her magic ever since. It just brings her family pain, suffering and blood, but we never really see any evidence of that. There's just not really enough explanation about anything. Labyrinth Lost, to me, feels like it could do with a lot more developing. That it needs to be longer, there needs to be more detail, to be a more complex, but believable story. It just feels a little wishy-washy to me.

Saying that, I loved how diverse the cast was. I don't think there was a single white person in this book. Alex's family were all Latin American, and with her ancestors, who make an appearance, some were Mexican or African or Caribbean - this isn't explicitly stated in the text, but in the Author's Note, but by descriptions, it's clear that some of them are black rather than Latin American. And then there's Rishi, who is a Guyanese Hindu. I loved how romance wasn't the focus of the story, but it played it's part, with a very slight love triangle. Alex is in love with Rishi, that's pretty much clear from the beginning, but she's also attracted to Nova, even though she doesn't feel she can trust him. There's never any talk about sexuality though, so I'm not entirely sure how Alex would identify, but she's attracted to guys and girls (though in this interview, when Córdova talks about the romance, she does mention "bi love triangle").

Sadly, this one wasn't for me, which is a shame, because I was so looking forward to it! But do read other reviews before deciding whether or not to read it yourself.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the proof.

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Published: 6th September 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Zoraida Córdova's Website

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