Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost

Author: Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Pages: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Release Date: September 6th 2016


"Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic."-Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die

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...

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

"Zoraida Cordova's prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic." -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight

"Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine's journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family." -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

"A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante's Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary." -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper

"Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish." -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.


"Finally for all the girls and boys: You are enough"
by Zoraida Córdova in the Acknowledgments of Labyrinth Lost

Let's start with the positive:
I love the world building and I like the message behind this.

The plot was pretty good. It's entertaining and kept my interest. I love quest/adventure fantasies, and Córdova definitely delivered lots of action and an interesting quest. I love fellowship stories even more. But sadly Labyrinth Lost fell a bit short on achieving a feeling of camaraderie or brotherhood.
The story is quite well paced, it has quite a few twists thrown in, though I gotta say that I basically saw all of them coming. So I wasn't really surprised by any of them. Still the story was entertaining, at the least. Sadly I was not very impressed with the last part of the novel. There is this huge build up. Then there is the long awaited showdown. And it fell simply short of impressing me. It was over in the blink of an eye and BOOM all is going back to being fixed. End of the Story.

The same can be said about the romance. There is all this tensions and then.. we told, okay, we done. Here is the result, happy ending.
Let me spell it out for you. The romance is meh. At best.
I get what Córdova was trying  to convey. But it just didn't work for me.
For starters: The love-triangle.  I so do loathe them. But this one? It didn't even work up any tension. Nor did it feature enough to even bother me. It's basically two besotted starry-eyed jealous love interests, who bicker and are completely infatuated with the supposed awesomely perfect person. I never felt any chemistry either way. I was totally dumbstruck with the argument of the final choice, simply because it made not much sense from Alex previous behaviours. It felt like Córdova was trying to be so cool about it, like trying too hard to convey that it is the most natural thing in the world, that it felt constructed and like she is trying to hard. But in it all the romance got actually lost. And if it wouldn't have been stressed in the end.. I wouldn't have mind. I would have been absolutely cool not having any solution to it. As it is the romance was barely there, I would have prefered it left alone, than at the end finishing things off like an afterthought. Also the change of view on the chosen one, happened so fast. Too fast for my taste, especially since I only got friendship vibes before that.

The character building left me divided. I love some parts of it and didn't like others.
This being told from Alex POV, we get to know her best. I like Alex, in all of her melodramatic bratty glory. I love the changes she goes through. I understand her struggles, who doesn't? Don't we all at some point feel at least a little like her? I like that she takes responsibility for her past faults.  She feel like a real character and I could to some degree identify with her.
I love the family. I like the teasing sisters, the sass between them and the love. Being from a close-knit big family, this made me smile. I am sure Córdova has a similar relationship with hers. IMO she got the family just right. All dramas held together with a whole lot of love and loyalty.
Rishi is Alex bestie. She is a Guyanese girl, who is snarky, quirky and quite sweet. Alex calls her Magpie. And I think that is quite accurate. But I found her fangirling a tad over the top and in fact her blind infatuation rather annoying and unbelievable. Besides all of these things, we know nothing about her and I found myself not really caring about her as well.
Nova on the other hand, had his moments. From being the stereotype hot bad boy, who was being helpful he morphed to a more interesting guy for a short amount of time. I could see that the past was driving him and that he was keeping secrets and there was a glimmer of attraction... and that fizzled out really fast as well. The way we got to hear his story felt like a quick fix- and I found at that point I couldn't give two figs about it.
Sad really because would Córdova have chosen to rather make them a group of friends and layered the two friends more, this could have been way way more interesting.

The writing style is inconsistent. I like some bits and others felt like they were falling short. As example while some descriptions of places were simply beautiful some of the action scenes felt flat. I like some of the dialogues, while others felt rehearsed. I thought this might be her debut novel, but alas it's just the first I am reading of hers.

The world building is my favorite part of the book. In fact it is was made me actually enjoy the novel. It's a mix between Santeria, Greek and possibly some ancient Egyptian mythology with a dash of Córdova .
I love Los Lagos, the brujas, the creatures. Really cool. I love Córdova's descriptions of it all. The pretty and the gruesome. I was left with some questions when it comes to the worldbuilding.
Still love love love the idea. Super cool! And a reason for me to keep reading the series.

Córdova wrote a decent enough start to the series. I like the world she created, the characters have potential and the adventure was entertaining. I love the message she is trying to convey with this book.
BUT I'm not sure that she possibly got to hang up on it? Some of this felt a bit to thought through, to prepared, rehearsed and even at times a bit to preachy.

After this ending, I am not sure where Córdova is going next, but I am interested to see where she is taking me.


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