By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
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 markings 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…
An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Why did I read this so early!? I can’t talk about it with anyone!
I love that this book took place in Brooklyn (shout out to BK for being magical, I definitely felt this novel was influenced by Shadowshaper, if only in location). I loved that it’s about a family of witches, how the witch-y world was built, and how Alex, with all her other teenager problems, was still brooding and angsty about her death day ceremony.
One of the strongest elements of the story is the theme of family. Alex’s ancestors are present at her Death Day ceremony (think of it like a quinceñera, but to get blessings on her bruja powers), she lives with her single mother and two sisters. As Alex goes through Los Lagos she discovers how much her relatives stuck in this world mean to her identity as a bruja. The purpose of the journey through Los Lagos is to save her family and they, in turn, save her. The bond with her family is enough that they can help her through any obstacle she has.
Alex is an encantrix, and has the ability to harness multiple powers. Whereas her older sister is a healer and her younger sister is psychic, Alex has the ability to use both powers and many others. When she discovers her powers, she doesn’t know how to control them and immediately wants to get rid of them on her death day. Through the journey in Los Lagos she comes to understand that her powers are both a blessing and a curse. And because Córdova is an excellent world builder, those powers have limits. Too much healing or over exertion of her powers causes her to black out.
I can’t forget about the importance of friendship in this novel as well. Rishi is Alex’s best friend, but she’s a mortal human–so naturally Alex can’t tell Rishi what she is, until Rishi figures it out for herself. But together, their chemistry becomes something more. Everyone in Los Lagos has their true colors shown. The romance that develops between the friends is very sweet. I never felt that while I was reading that Alex’s sexuality was something that was important, she was just with Rishi and that was enough. (TBH, I definitely felt some chemistry with Nova also, but that went away toward the end. AND even if she did feel that way about Nova, that is totally okay, too. The book isn’t about Alex discovering her sexual identity anyway.)
I feel like this book is publishing at the right time. It has all the elements that make for a good read: magic, teen angst, family drama, “the chosen one” (but not in a cliche way), and based in Brooklyn. There was never a point where the action moved too slowly or the characters were flat. Highly recommend.