Book Review: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

Book: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

Published June 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Brooklyn Brujas #2

Genre: YA

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

I really liked Bruja Born!  I admit, I was nervous going into it, because it’s been a while since I read the first book, and I was sure I was going to regret that.  I mean, how many times have I read the second book in the series without re-reading the first, and then been really confused about what was going on?  Too many times to count.

That was not the case with this book.  Thankfully.  While it’s set in the same world, has the same characters, and takes place after the events of the first book, it’s a completely different story focusing on a different character.  Reading the first book would be a good idea, so you know what the characters are referencing, but I think you’d be fine if you didn’t.  It’s one of those series where you don’t need to read them in order, and each one stands on its own pretty well, but reading all of them gives a larger picture you wouldn’t get if you didn’t read all of them.

Bruja Born is a lot creepier than I expected it to be, but I liked it.  I liked that there were very real (and very serious) consequences to Lula’s actions.  What happened in Los Lagos really affected her, and you really see that in this book. There are definitely checks and balances and you see what happens when Lula is unable to let go.

I particularly loved the bond that Lula and her sisters had.  They are in it together, particularly Alex and Lula, and there’s a lot both girls have to deal with.  It’s nice to see a family that is actually around and supportive.  Yes, Rose, Lula and Alex fight, but they’re also there for each other.  I feel like we don’t see it enough in YA.  The magical world they live in really opens up in this book, and there are some things we have not seen the last of.  Hopefully, we’ll get more of it in the next book.

I loved the magic and mythology, and it’s nice to see something that’s not the typical Greek mythology or magic you’d see in most fantasy.  There are so many different mythologies and magic systems out there, and it’s nice to see something different.

And this is a random change of topic, but I liked seeing accept the scars on her face.  I think it’s understandable she’d want to glamour them.  It’s your face, and it’s something people notice.  But over the course of the book, you see her be more okay with it.  She really changes a lot, and it felt very real and very relatable.

One thing I couldn’t quite figure out was the timeline.  It seems like it takes place over a longer period of time, at least from what the characters say, and yet, it seems like it happens over the course of a few days.  I’m not sure if I just wasn’t paying attention, or if it was action-packed enough that it seemed like it happened faster than it really did.  Obviously, I kept reading, and I did really enjoy it, so while it was odd, it wasn’t a huge factor in my enjoyment of the book.

4 stars.  I really liked Bruja Born!  I liked Lula and her relationship with her sisters, and I really liked the mythology and magic in the book.

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Book: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Published September 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire|324 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

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

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 marks 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…

I really loved the magic, traditions and culture in Labyrinth Lost.  When I first heard about it, I knew I wanted to rea it, because it seemed really different.

Los Lagos was a really vivid setting- it had this Wonderland feel to it, and I think, if it were to be adapted into a movie or t.v. show, that Los Lagos would be really pretty to look at.  I thought things were pretty interesting leading up to Los Lagos, and as pretty and vivid at it seems, it was also the point where I started to lose a little bit of interest.

I think it’s mostly because the stakes never felt really high.  I know Alex is trying to get her family back, but there was never the sense of urgency that she would never get them back if she didn’t comply with the Devourer’s wishes.  It was pretty predictable that she’d be reunited with them, and I kind of felt like the book never really made me feel like it was a distinct possibility.

There were also a lot of the tropes you’d see in a book like this.  The girl who’s the most powerful in a while, but doesn’t want it and would do anything to get rid of it.  There’s the best friend who has no idea her best friend is a bruja but goes after her anyway, and the bad boy with a troubled past who, in the end, does the right thing by trying to help our heroine.  It wasn’t annoying enough to make me dislike it, but just annoying enough for me to bring it up. So keep that in min if you’re thinking about reading it.

The magic and folklore were really different, and I liked the idea of a Deathday celebration.  There was something very old and traditional about the magic, like it was passed down from generation to generation.  I also really liked the contrast between Brooklyn and Los Lagos and Brooklyn and the magic we see in the book.

I did think Alex was a little bit on the bratty side- her family really cared about her, as did a lot of other people, and it seemed like she threw it right in their faces at her Deathday celebration.  I am curious about why her mom didn’t really put her through their magical training a little more.  I wonder if maybe that’s part of Alex’s problem.  Maybe not, but I do wonder if it would have made a difference.

And the cover!  It’s really unique and I’d definitely pick it up based off of the cover alone.

4 stars.  I can’t wait to read the next book, because I am curious to see where things go.  Especially with how the book ended.  It is really unique, and worth checking out!