Title: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2)
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: SourceBooks Fire
*HUGE thanks to SourceBooks Fire and Zoraida Córdova for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion
There’s something special about the second book in a trilogy, it’s almost always the book to determine whether you keep going or hit the brakes. Bruja Born had me entranced in its spell, I couldn’t think of anything else when I wasn’t reading it. I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost last year but Bruja Born has left me head over heels in love with Zoraida Córdova’s writing, characters, and expanded world (more on this further down). I’m a Latinx Brooklynite myself & all I would’ve needed to top this read off was a front stoop or Brooklyn rooftop to read under the night sky. Atmospheric, dark, lush with culture & lore, a story filled with magic & its consequences. A tale about love & letting go, acceptance and self-love…I didn’t expect the many layers we got in this book but can honestly say Bruja Born blew me away!
“Follow my voice, my love, my love. Death cannot tear us apart. Take my hand, my love, my love. Follow the light of my heart. —Lula’s Healing Canto, Book of Cantos”
Bruja Born picks up after the events in Los Lagos (the underworld) in the first book Labyrinth Lost. Since this is a sequel I won’t go into too much detail to avoid all the spoilery things. When I think of Los Lagos I picture Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in terms of how dark this world is. Labyrinth Lost was told from the point of view of Alex, the actions she took had some serious shared consequences between her & her sisters. These consequences play out in this second installment which is told from Alex’s sister Lula’s POV. Lula has had the most burden to bear from the events in the last book but they all pretty much came back changed one way or another. Lula is struggling with all of her relationships & is facing a possible break-up with her boyfriend Maks who cares a lot for her but is finding it hard to deal with her distance. Lula is hiding things from Maks both beneath & on surface level. In the Goodreads blurb we are told there’s an accident that leads to the deaths of many of Lula’s classmates including Maks. Lula’s inability to let Maks go leads her down a path of defiance where she’ll have to answer to Lady De La Muerte aka Lady Death herself. Lula and her sisters have a history of going up against the Deos (Gods) but this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew.
“The Deos, too, learned their limits. El Fuego extinguished into ash. La Ola crumbled into salt. El Terroz clove the earth in pieces. El Viento fell and kept on falling. But from their limits, Lady de la Muerte was born —The Creation of the Deos, Antonietta Mortiz de la Paz”
There’s a system of checks & balances where Lady De La Muerte is concerned and defying death has never gone unpunished. As frightening as Lady De La Muerte sounds, seeing her come to life on the page was terrifying! envisioning her staff alone was enough to make me read with the lights on. The depiction was on point & whenever there was a scene with Lady De La Muerte I was left shooketh! There’s so much to this book to love but perhaps the expansion & inclusion of other magical beings we all know and love, is what took this book to yet another level of enjoyment. I picked up on some Mortal Instruments vibes as well but make no mistake Bruja Born is its own thing & the Latinx representation is strong and beautiful! The family bonds in this sequel are strengthened and we get to see their ups & downs. This isn’t just your straight forward Fantasy where demons are fought & the hero comes to the rescue. This is a story where there aren’t any clear winners and the consequences of defying the laws of nature are as big as the deed itself. The characters you meet on the page are complex and flawed but they all have come to love the magic that runs deep in their blood.
Córdova has created a world centered around a Latinx family of Brujas & Brujos I’ve come to love spending time with between the pages. Maybe it’s the snippets of Spanish sprinkled throughout the pages or the familiarity of this family that pull me in but seeing more diversity in YA Fantasy has genuinely made me fall in love with the genre once again!
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