Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.
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 she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.
✩ Alex was stubborn and determined. When she put her mind to something she put all her effort into getting it done. I also thought she was loyal to her family (even with what happens, she goes to great lengths to fix her mistake).
✩ Rishi was loyal to Alex as well. She was really accepting and embraced Alex’s differences.
✩ Nova was really mysterious. The whole book you just want to know more about him. I also thought he was funny and kind of charming in his own way.
❝ ” [….] We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.” ❞
I had so much fun reading Labyrinth Lost and the audiobook just made it even better honestly. If you’re considering reading this book I’d say check out the audiobook because I really enjoyed the narrator’s performance so it’s just a nice bonus.
But anyways, I loved this book right away just because of its diversity. Being Mexican myself, it was fun to read a book where the majority of the characters were Hispanic. I felt like the book captured the key aspects of the culture pretty well, namely the idea of family and togetherness. I loved that they extended the idea of family to deceased family members by creating Deathday celebrations where all family (alive and dead) coming together to bless the young Bruja/Brujo coming into their powers. Plus, there is a bit of LGBTQ representation in the book. I won’t spoil it because the romance isn’t obvious at first so I’ll let it be a surprise~
I also thought that the book had an interesting way of playing on the theme of belonging on two different levels. I feel that with most characters that are from another race/ethnicity/etc there’s some focus on their struggle to fit into the American community/culture. With Labyrinth Lost, it takes that theme and shifts it to Alex’s family not entirely fitting in because they’re Brujas (they have to be careful about using their magic and hiding their powers), but also adds in how Alex doesn’t feel like she fits into her family because of she’d rather be normal. Of course, her desire to be normal is what sets the story into motion because her attempt to get rid of her powers backfires big time.
I’m also going to talk about the worldbuilding a bit before I jump into the plot because how could I not, haha. Although there were many myths and Gods/Goddesses to remember I didn’t feel like I had to remember all of them. I think the book did a fairly good job of introducing each of them to us in the story. Usually, there would be a description of what the deity was associated with or a myth that a character brought up that went along with them that helped to remember. Plus, I liked that the chapter headers included snippets of those myths, creation stories, etc. from the Bruja/Brujos books of cantos. It was a nice touch for this kind of book. It reminded me of how Hispanic cultures have many saints they pray to for different things. Again, going back to the way that Cordova adapts aspects of the culture into the fantasy genre–love it! ❤
The book’s setting mainly takes place in Los Lagos, an in-between dimension that some pretty bad things call home. When Alex’s family disappears as a result of a spell gone wrong, she’s stuck having to work with Nova to journey to the heart of Los Lagos and rescue her family from a powerful Bruja that’s taken over the land. I really enjoyed this part of the book because Los Lagos was this mythical, dangerous, kind of strange “other” place. It reminded me of the Wizard of Oz in a way because you had creatures trying to help Alex and Nova on their journey as well as those trying to stop her. There were dangerous areas that they avoided. And it was also mentioned that the Bruja’s spies were everywhere. It kinda just had that vibe.
As for the plot of the story, I’m saying now that it was pretty good. Like I said, I loved the cultural aspects worked into it and the diversity, and I also liked the worldbuilding. That said, the beginning does feel a little slow. It’s mostly about Alex not wanting her powers and kind of just drags along until her Deathday ceremony which is when things really kick into motion. Once the story gets to that point though it goes along much faster/smoother.
❝ Not all loves are meant to last forever. Some burn like fire until there is nothing left but ash and black ink on skin. ❞
One of the things that bothered me the most about this book was one of the big “plot twists”. I was not really surprised with one of the big reveals in the book. It was kind of disappointing because the surprise was ruined from the beginning; the synopsis of the book basically gives it away (not sure why they did that). Still, I enjoyed the journey Alex and Nova took, as well as how things played out between them.
And, to be fair, the book does throw another surprise at you in the very last pages that kind of makes up for it. This twist actually made me stop and go “what!”. Plus, the torture of not knowing how everyone was going to react to this because it was at the very end of the book. It was something I wanted to know more about and I definitely hoped that Alex and her family would find some sort of resolution with, but I was not expecting what Cordova threw at me in that last chapter.
Now, I’m going to talk about some of the characters, and I’m starting with the biggest one (sorry Alex)–Nova. Nova was the character that jumped out at me the most in this book. He was streetsmart, kind of sarcastic (which I always love), and mysterious. We only got to know bits and pieces of Nova as we went along and I think that’s something that attracted me to his character. I just always wanted to know more, especially because he seemed like trouble. His character was morally gray, he made some mistakes, but I still really sympathized with him. I could understand his actions and I felt for him. I understood his fear and sense of self-preservation. I just think his character was well-written and it added some flavor to the story to have him be… not perfect? I just like it when characters are complex ❤
Alex, the main character, is another one I definitely have to talk about. I have to say that she was a character that grew on him. In the beginning, she was a little annoying because she complained about her powers and not wanting them. I didn’t see anything really terrible with them for her to be like “let me find a way to get rid of them”. Still, the more I read the more I loved her fiery spirit and passion. And sassiness. I liked that she never really seemed to give up.
And lastly–although she didn’t seem to have as big of a role–Rishi. I loved her because she was funny and really cute. I thought Rishi was a super supportive friend and really loyal. When she found out about Alex’s family and their powers she just embraced it and didn’t judge her for it. Plus, she went to great lengths for Alex and it was just a really positive relationship between them.
Overall, I think this was a great start to the series and I can’t wait to jump into the next book! Labyrinth Lost is perfect for people who want fantasy and diversity in their books!