Friday, September 2, 2016

ARC Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Title: Labyrinth Lost
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Written by: Zoraida Cordova
Published: September 6, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. 

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone. 

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… 

 Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I was really looking forward to this book. I am always looking for a unique YA fantasy, whether that is with diverse characters or a different magical system. and this really seemed to fit the bill in more ways than one. There was a lot to like about this book but for me it never quite took it to that love level. It was a good and interesting read, but I wasn't blown away.

One thing that I did love about this book was the world. This is a world within a world portal fantasy reminiscent of some of my favorite fantasies and the world of Los Lagos was definitely fascinating. It was weird and strange and creative with a real Wonderland feel to it. It's sometimes hard to create a new and different world like this without it feeling contrived and like all the other fantasy worlds we are super familiar with but here the world felt reminiscent of those places but something entirely it's own. I really liked exploring all that weirdness and the author did a great job at showing us the world instead of telling.

However there was a little too much exploring of the world. Most of the middle of this book is devoted to traveling through and exploring Los Lagos and that just didn't do anything for me. You all probably know how I feel about travel monologues, I talk about my dislike of them all the time. I am just not a fan of that plot device, especially if it comes in the middle of the book. A little exposition and exploration in the beginning is fine but it should be used sparingly. And here it definitely pulled me out of the story despite how much I did like the world.

But my lack of connection with the plot wasn't something that started just when the travel kicked in. This is one of those rare books where a lot happens but it doesn't feel like any of it is significant. It just goes from moment to moment until about two-thirds of the way into the book when the larger plot kicks in. This kind of pacing and plot development meant that it took me a longer time than usual to connect and so throughout the book my feelings and engagement when up and down. It just didn't consistently interest me.

But what I did like was the characters and the character development. They felt a little tropey at times but they are the kinds of characters that I like. They fall more on the unlikable side of the spectrum but as the book goes on and they go on their Hero's Journey they change and grow in a good way. Especially with the main character of Alex. Alex is really not very likable at the beginning of the book, she's whiney, entitled, and unappreciative. But because of her actions there unforeseen circumstances that she has to live with and learn from. I like a character who does stupid things and then there are consequences. It made her more interesting and surprisingly likable. But that being said, I don't think there was enough emphasis put on the development of the secondary characters. There was a lot of different people that Alex met along the way and they were just there supporting her, I would have liked to learn a little more about her family in particular. I think that is because I liked the characters.

On the whole Labyrinth Lost was an okay read. It felt like a classic portal fantasy and while I enjoyed that, it didn't take it to the next level. Plus a slower plot and pacing made this a good but not great read for me despite an interesting world and complex characters.

I give Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. This was an okay read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a big fan of portal fantasies or if you are looking for a different and more diverse YA fantasy with a strange and interesting world. Maybe pick it up the next time you're at the library.

Have you read Labyrinth Lost? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I saw this one at BEA and was tempted to get it but at the same time I was a bit so-so... and after reading your review I remain as torn as before!

    1. Yeah I am pretty torn on this one too. It was okay. Not my kind of read but interesting.