Recommended for ages 13+
Alex lives in Brooklyn with her mom and her sisters. Her dad disappeared a few years ago, and she’s taking it hard, feeling responsible. She’s about to turn 16, so the family is planning her big party. Her Death Day party. Alex and her sisters are Brujas – witches – and they’re the very real thing. But Alex doesn’t want this power. In fact, she suppresses it as much as she can – but keeps that from her family – because she’s afraid of what would happen if she were to let it go. Again.
At her Death Day party, Alex thinks she’s going to cast a spell that would leave her powerless, but something goes haywire, and her entire family vanishes right before her eyes. Now, she’s forced to get help from a Brujo named Nova; they have to travel to the in-between world of Los Lagos to bring her family back, but can Alex even trust Nova? He’s got a lot of secrets and seems to be working from his own playbook.
I loved, loved, LOVED Labyrinth Lost: it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story is narrated in Alex’s voice, and she is hilarious. She’s full of snark – “resting witchface” is now a term I need to put into regular rotation – and she wields it like a weapon, guarding herself from the fears that plague her. Unchecked, her power makes her the most powerful witch in her family, and it frightens her, because she’s seen that power loosed once. Zoraida Cordova has a gift for breathing life into her characters; every single character in Labyrinth Lost is amazing. I love the interactions between Alex and her sisters and between Alex and her mother; the Lady and Nova; the characters she meets as she travels through Los Lagos, everyone. Cordova gives us wild fantasy with a realistic tale of a young woman struggling with adolescence. Her adolescence comes with dead relatives, portals to limbo, and witchcraft, but still, adolescence. Steeped in Latin American knowledge and tradition and filled with rich characters, Labyrinth Lost draws you into a world you won’t want to leave. Thankfully, it’s the first in a new series, so hopefully we’ll be visiting with the Brujas again sooner rather than later.
If you haven’t already added this to your YA collections, WHY? If you haven’t picked this up and read it yourself, stop reading this review immediately and go get a copy.
Zoraida Cordova has a great webpage where you can sign up for her newsletter, read interviews and learn more about her books, and follow her on social media.