Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Date: September 9, 2016
Reviewed by: Courtney DeWitt
FA Scorecard: A
Alex is not as stoked about her legacy as a bruja as the rest of her family. She would rather just go to the Ghoul Ball with her best friend, Rishi, than celebrate her Deathday. This is a bruja’s coming of age ceremony of sorts. Her two sisters and her mom, however, are proud of their heritage. Generations of magic live within the Mortiz family. They all have their own special brand of magic, and Alex was the last to come into hers. At least, that’s what her family thinks. But Alejandra Mortiz is hiding a secret, and she intends to do her own spell during her Deathday ceremony to rid herself of the magic she fears within herself.
When the spell backfires on her, Alex’s entire family is thrown into another world that she had only thought was something from a bedtime story- the realm of Los Lagos. Here is where her ancestors dwell and dark brujas are cast by the Deos, or gods. Los Lagos is also haunted by another who threatens to drain all the power within the realm, so a portal may be opened to the mortal world. The Devourer has a bounty on Alex’s head, or more dangerously, Alex’s magic. The young bruja soon learns that she is an encantrix, the most gifted bruja in her generation. And she must use her power to save her family with the help of a shady brujo named Nova.
Throughout Alex’s journey in Los Lagos, she learns that trust is something to be earned, and your wits and love can be more powerful than magic. She holds Nova at arm’s length through each trial- after all, why trust a boy who’s only coming along for the money? Still, Alex longs for answers and is intrigued by the brujo with strange tattoos marking his body. Even more than this, she wrestles with accepting the power inside her. She has to decide if she will put aside her fear and save not only her family but an entire realm, or if she will let The Devourer consume her. And in an ever-changing place like Los Lagos, Alex will have to look twice before believing what she sees.
Labyrinth Lost takes the reader on more than just your typical coming-of-age story where the heroine saves the day and learns to love herself. Alex is unique, not only in her heritage, but also in the legend surrounding her. Author Zoraida Cordova brings Ecuadorian mythology and culture to life along the backdrop of modern day Brooklyn with smooth, vibrant imagery. Personally, my mouth watered half the time by the mere mention of amazing food like guava and brie empanadas, but the world building of Los Lagos is also breathtaking. Many of the landmarks and trials are reminiscent of various world mythologies, and touch on stories many of us grew up with, like Alice in Wonderland.
The relationships in the book don’t fall short either. Ribbing between sisters brings plenty of giggles, as does the wrenching loneliness of an absent father. The tepid friendship between Alex and Nova keeps the reader guessing until the very last stunner of a page. Rishi’s part in Alex’s life also defies cookie-cutter development as a sweet, innocent young love blossoms between the two girls. Still, Alex’s feelings toward her best friend and a troubled boy never detract from the mission at hand but instead interweave between plot points expertly and add life and hope when Alex has none. All in all, this novel charmed me like an attraction canto, leaving me wanting to know what kind of destiny the encantrix will fall into next.