“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.”
Published: September 6th, 2016
**I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
What a unique, original concept for this very enjoyable fantasy! Alex comes from a family of brujas and she also happens to be the most powerful bruja her family has seen in a generation. In modern day Brooklyn, being a bruja means that Alex just wants to be a normal girl, and not come home to her family summoning the dead and planning her Deathday so she can formally accept her powers. The only problem is, Alex doesn’t want her powers. She fears having this power that she can’t control and she says she fears the danger this could bring to her family.
As her family plans her Deathday celebration, Alex decides she has another plan in mind. Instead of accepting her powers, she plans to banish them- something she knows will be shameful for her family but believes this is the best decision. On the day of her celebration, something goes terribly wrong. Instead of banishing her powers a portal opens and banishes her family to Los Lagos, another magical realm where souls go to cross over. With the help of Nova, a boy she recently met, Alex ventures into the realm of Los Lagos to save her family from the Devourer.
I genuinely enjoyed this book. Los Lagos was a magical world reminiscent of both Greek mythology and Wonderland. There’s all kinds of creatures and regions in this realm, all with a Latin American influence. Alex is a likable, sarcastic and relatable protagonist. She is also extremely selfish. While Alex says she wants to banish her powers for her family, I got the impression she was really doing it for herself. She refuses to listen to her mother or her sisters Lula and Rose and continues with her plan in secret without thinking of the consequences. While she is selfish in the beginning, Alex has some great character growth throughout her journey through Los Lagos. This story is very much a fantasy, but it is also a coming of age story about family, love, loss and finding your self-confidence.
Nova is also a great character. He’s all mystery throughout the entire book. While we do get some answers about his life, I feel like there is still a lot we have to learn from Nova and I can’t wait to see where his story goes. Throughout the book I had so many questions about him: What is the relationship with his family? How does his magic work? Why did he really agree to risk his life to go with Alex? I felt like there had to be something more than money.
The pacing of the story was perfect. I had enough time to enjoy the beautiful imagery of Los Lagos while still getting more pieces to the mystery of the realm and Alex’s journey. There were a few mysteries that continue through the entire book. For example, Alex constantly hears strange voices and sees her dead Aunt Rosaria. We also get little glimpses of Alex’s memory of her father, but we don’t know why he left or where he went. Finally, the Devourer was an excellent villain! She was so creepy and grotesque. My only complaint is that I wish her backstory was more well-developed.
I loved the themes of love and family throughout the story. Yes, Alex is on a journey to save her family but her family’s history, traditions and love was so present throughout the entire book. I’m not used to YA books having family so present in the book that it was very lovely to read about. Here is Alex’s sister Lula helping her channel her power to heal:
“That’s love, Alex. That’s the love I have for you. Replace the anger and fear and just think about the person you’re trying to heal.” -Ebook 51%
So I really loved almost everything about this book, but I honestly didn’t see the point of having Rishi in it. While I really enjoyed seeing Alex work out her attraction for both Rishi and Nova and seeing her relationship develop with Rishi, I don’t think it was all that necessary for the plot of the story. Rishi herself contributed absolutely nothing to the story line. She was human and didn’t really belong in the bruja world. She didn’t really help Alex all that much in Los Lagos except for the occasional sarcastic remark. Honestly, she just annoyed me. Yes, her and Alex had some cute scenes together but she overall did not help to drive the plot of the story. Did anyone else feel this way? I tried to like Rishi but she wasn’t a well-developed character for me.
Overall, I highly recommend this magical fantasy. Alex is a fresh, original character and her world is equally unique. I loved her character development throughout the story and how she realizes the importance of her family and her magic on her journey.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆