Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can find the review for Book 1 here.
Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.
Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.
Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…
✩ Lula was a little selfish in this book and insecure, but by the end of it I think she became strong and more self-confident.
✩ Rose was one of my favorites in this book because she was reasonable and logical. I liked that she was so mature and dependable.
✩ Alex was more confident in her magic in this book, but it also seemed like her emotions were more explosive. She was pushed into a lot of things because of the guilt she felt, but also the love she had for her sisters.
❝ My aunt Maria Azul told me beauty was power. My mother told me beauty was a gift. If they’re right then what am I now? All I know is I left fragments of myself in Los Lagos and I don’t know how to get them back. ❞
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own!
I was so excited when I first saw this book, even before I saw the blurb. Labyrinth Lost was one of my favorite reads of the year so far and when I saw Bruja Born I knew that this was a book I had to get my hands on. Bruja Born shifts the focus from Alex (the protagonist in Labyrinth Lost) to her older sister Lula. This was a plus for me because while I could definitely use some more Alex, I was really curious about the rest of her family members. Alex’s adventure in the first book didn’t really leave room to get to know her family super well so I loved that we got to read a different point of view in Bruja Born.
Although, I will say that I was a little worried about Lula’s character at first. Her first chapters brought up the idea of beauty more than a few times. She was kind of vain and selfish in that she guilted Alex into using her powers to hide her facial scars. I didn’t enjoy that side of Lula, the one that was manipulative and kind of petulant towards Alex. I could understand her having some issues after the ordeal she went through in Labyrinth Lost but it was frustrating to see her not being the loving, protective, and sassy Lula from the first book.
Not to say that her character stays that way; Lula’s character grows quite a bit from beginning to end. She becomes more comfortable taking charge and speaking her mind. She is more forgiving and willing to look forward. More importantly, she learns to love herself as she is and is able to let go of the past.
And since we can’t talk about Lula without talking about Maks… I was really looking forward to getting to know Maks better in this book. Their relationship was established in the first book but we didn’t get to really know them as a couple. And in this book… well, it doesn’t really happen either sadly. Lula brings up memories from before she went to Los Lagos which helps us get a better idea of how Maks was in the relationship, but we don’t really get to see them in the relationship.
Since it says it in the synopsis, it’s not really a spoiler–I was sad that we only got to spend a short time with Maks since he dies. Even though he comes back later, he’s changed and he isn’t himself anymore so for me it was like getting to know a different character. And the new Maks was… well, I’ll let you read and find out for yourself. Let’s just leave it at him being the opposite of what I thought he’d be.
❝ Healing is the purest magic there is and it’s part of my life force. When I look at Maks, I see the parts of me that used to be whole, and maybe it’s desperate, maybe it’s wrong, but I can’t let him go. ❞
And because the synopsis already talks about this a bit as well: I loved that this book extended the magical world to include not only witches but their version of zombies (casimuertos). I thought casimuertos were a really interesting concept, not only with how they worked (consuming hearts) but how they were created and tied to the world (I’d say more but I’d hate to give away too much).
Another element I appreciated the author expanding on was the Knights of Lavant and the Thorne Hill Alliance. We heard mention of the hunters/Knights of Lavant in the first book a few times, and I think the Thorne Hill Alliance might have been brought up once or twice, but we didn’t get to know anything else about them! The hunters/knights seemed like these bad guys you tell stories about to young brujas to keep them in line, but in this book they became real. I liked that we didn’t just get to know them as some shadows, but that we were actually introduced to individuals in this book. They also introduced more supernatural beings through them in passing which I’m hoping we’ll get to see more of in the future.
One of the biggest negatives of this book for me, however, was that the plot didn’t seem as clear as in the first book and the pacing also seemed a little slow. In Labyrinth Lost, we knew that Alex was trying to get her family back and was going to the tree. Her journey was pretty straightforward and I could measure her progress with their traveling. But in Bruja Born? It wasn’t clear right away what Lula was meant to do about Maks and the other casimuertos. And even when we were told what she was looking for it didn’t feel like she was putting any effort into finding it until the very end of the book. And without her taking measured steps to obtain the object she was looking for it felt like the book was at a standstill plot-wise most of the time.
But! I loved the ending for the Bruja Born. It was shocking and left me with so many questions about the next book. It also answered a big question that had been gnawing at me since Labyrinth Lost: what happened to Alex’s father? Yes, you get to find out finally! It seems like every book features one of the Mortiz sisters having a big epic lapse in judgment and making a terrible decision that affects everyone around them so I’m secretly waiting to see if the next book will be Rose’s turn to mess up haha. I’m really looking forward to continuing this series and I think overall this was a pretty good follow up to the series!
Bruja Born was released on June 5th, go check it out!