Two years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of reading and reviewing a galley of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. I loved the book. I thought it was a wonderful introduction to the world of Alex and her family, and was excited to see what future installments in the series would lead to (especially after the cliffhanger at the end!). This year, I was lucky enough to also be approved to read Bruja Born, and it did not disappoint!
Note: If you haven’t read Labyrinth Lost, this review may contain light spoilers–which is kind of inevitable when talking about a sequel, so if you aren’t into that, then go read it & come back!
Bruja Born follows Alex’s older sister, Lula, who is dealing with the aftermath of her time in Los Lagos, including trauma caused from her sister’s powers. She relies heavily on her boyfriend Maks to make everything seem normal, even though she can’t share most of her life with him (basically anything about being a bruja). Then one morning, Lula and Maks are involved in a bus crash, one which kills everyone on board except Lula. Faced with a choice, and her own healing magic, she enlists her sisters to help bring Maks back–but messing with Death isn’t advisable, and things don’t go quite as planned. (No spoilers! All of this is in the blurb!)
I really, really loved this book. There’s definitely not a sophomore slump here. Usually, I’m not a fan of shifting protagonists in series, but I didn’t mind it here because the story continues to involve Alex, and because the book expands the world in such delicious ways. Lula’s voice is very strong and I really came to like her, and to appreciate the effects the events of Labyrinth Lost have had on her and her life. While she doesn’t attempt to reject magic the way that her sister did, her problem is almost the opposite: that she comes to rely heavily on it to try and fix her life, which also backfires. I love the theme of “magic can’t fix everything” that flows through these books. It makes the characters so real, and it also shows how much a part of them their magic is, and how easy it is to try and use it to solve their problems. All of the characters here are so great, and I can’t wait for another book, presumably from the third Mortiz sister’s viewpoint.
The story itself is very engaging. It takes a little while to build up, but once it does, it’s non stop action and edge of your seat thrills. I am pretty sure I read it in one or two sittings because I could NOT put it down. I really wanted to see what happened to Lula and all of those around her. I laughed, I cried, and I gasped–and I love when a story has so much going for it. It does have a different feel from Labyrinth, but that’s because it’s utterly set in our world and that world has very real rules…and also very real politics for folks of a supernatural bent. This book expands the world we were introduced to in Labyrinth, by introducing various organizations that govern the brujas, as well as vampires and shapeshifters. I am so eager to see how it continues to grow and develop in future installments. I also read somewhere that some of these organizations were introduced first in other of Cordova’s works, so I’ll definitely be exploring those as well.
I feel like this review was a little bit all over the place, but that often happens when I’m so enthusiastic about a book! If you haven’t read Labyrinth Lost yet, I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary–BUT you will have a better understanding of some aspects of the story–and it’s AMAZING so why wouldn’t you read it?! If you have, then you definitely need to pick up Bruja Born as soon as you can. It will leave you wanting more, but it’s also a self-contained story in itself. If you do pick it up, I really hope you enjoy it!
Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What urban fantasy books do you love? Let me know in the comments!