A Review of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Labyrinth Lost was Las Doctoras’ summer book club selection. In Labyrinth Lost, our teen protagonist Alex accidentally sends her family to the underworld on her Death Day, which is a brujx rite of passage. Everyone suspects that Alex is the next big powerful bruja, and she wants none of it. She wants to renounce her own magical power because she’s seen how brujería has hurt her family. She wants to be “normal” so bad. She doesn’t see her magic as a blessing like the rest of her family does; she sees it as a curse. And so, she accidentally sends her family to Los Lagos, a place where brujos and brujas are banished. With the help of a fellow brujo, Alex embarks on a dangerously magical quest to rescue her family where she connects with her magic, and ultimately, with herself.
The book is truly magical. Córdova’s writing is enchanting. Every chapter starts with a canto that is related to the forthcoming action. The writing is very descriptive. Her use of imagery is seamless. I can see the images in my mind as I read along. I can picture the characters’ movement and their facial reactions. Her use of Spanglish is also smooth; it reads naturally. My favorite thing that Córdova does is refer to Alex’s intuition as her magic. She personifies her magic. It is a reminder that our intuition is magic. Overall, I’m in awe of her writing because she managed to write a novel while tapping into her inner bruja to create cantos.
Some of the themes I’ve identified are:
- Generational trauma (and being the person to break the cycle)
- Experiencing and managing anxiety, especially high-functioning anxiety
- Self-doubt and struggling to own your greatness
- Imposter’s Syndrome
I loved how Zoraida Córdova combined mythology and fantasy as the storytelling methods to take on these themes. These themes are heavy to unpack. Hell, some of us are still learning how to cope with these themes as adults (I know I am). Córdova tackles these themes in a way that is relatable and makes her young readers feel seen. Her depiction of magic takes a new direction that moves away from the common tropes in young adult fantasy novels.
In fact, she often repeats: “Spells are for witches, cantos are for brujas.” Córdova brings and delivers the brown representation we need in a genre that is often depicted as a white wizards, witches, or gods.
Who should read this book? Everyone! But if you’re really trying to keep your TBR list as tight as possible, I’d recommend the book to anyone who identifies as a bruja or dabbles in a lil’ brujeria. If you watched the show Charmed (the original and the recent reboot), this book is for you. If you seek an adventure or an easy read, this book is for you. If you’re looking for a book to read during the Halloween season, this book is for you. Do yourself a favor and read this book. Listen to your magic.