Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1) by Zoraida Córdova – Non-Spoiler Review



Book: Labyrinth Lost

Series: Brooklyn Brujas, #1

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Pages: 324

Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

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 she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

This book is the epitome of “be careful what you wish for”. Alex doesn’t want to be a powerful bruja (witch), so she casts a spell that goes horribly wrong. Her entire family disappears. With the help of a brujo named Nova, they enter a magical realm called Los Lagos to search for Alex’s family.

Despite some pacing issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I don’t have any prior experience reading about brujas and brujos, nor do I have any prior knowledge about Latino myths and legends. I loved reading about the culture and getting such strong imagery during the ritual scenes. Also the fact that this book has all POC characters and is very feminist makes me like it even more.

So let’s talk about the good and the bad!

The Good:

  • The rep. As mentioned briefly, there is a full cast of POC characters! Also there’s bi-rep between two teens that’s portrayed in a positive way.
  • The culture/legends. I haven’t read any Latino-influenced literature before. I feel like this book needs a lot more hype especially since it’s so diverse! We get to read about so many different types of rituals, spells, and mythical legends.
  • Los Logos, the magical realm. I was getting some major Alice in Wonderland vibes. Some of the “creatures” Alex and Nova encounter are strange, but I especially loved the avianas and the faeries. My heart melted every time Rishi and Madra spoke to each other.
  • The characters. Alex can be bratty at times, but she is a self-aware teen who acknowledges her mistakes. Also I adored Alex’s relatives.
  • Faeries! I had no idea faeries would be in this book so that was an awesome surprise. The way that scene is written was so on-point. I cannot praise it enough.

The Bad:

  • A mild love triangle. This is VERY MINOR but it’s there. I’m wondering if it will be explored more in the sequel.
  • A lot of “journeying”. I definitely had some pacing issues since this book has a lot of journeying. However things really started to pick up once they meet the faeries.

I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of magic, cultural diversity, and journeys. There’s a bit of a surprise/cliffhanger at the end, which sets us up for the sequel due to come out in June 2018.

I wanted to also mention a trigger warning for harm to animals.




The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw – Non Spoiler Review



Book: The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Pages: 320

Genre: YA Paranormal, fantasy

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I read The Wicked Deep as part of a buddy read hosted by Julie at Pages and Pens on twitter with Melanie at Meltotheany, Lilly at Lair of Books, Jules at JA Ironside, Chelsea Palmer, and Paloma!

I must be lucky, because I’ve had an awesome reading month so far. I’m always up for a buddy read with these awesome ladies. They’re always such a joy to discuss books with! We laughed, we cried, and as Melanie put it, we put our FBI hats on to try to predict all the spooky twists.

“The Swan sisters are collectors of boys. Seducers. Once they have each taken a girl’s body… the drowning begins.”

The Wicked Deep is a paranormal, atmospheric read set in present day Oregon, in a small town called Sparrow. Two hundred years ago, three sisters (known as the Swan sisters) were accused of witch craft and executed by drowning. Now in present day, the town of Sparrow prepares for the Swan season: Every June 1st until the summer solstice, the Swan sisters will inhabit the body of a girl and then lure boys to their deaths in the harbor.

“They don’t inhabit bodies just to be alive again; they do it for revenge.”

Penny is the main protagonist. She’s a high school junior who does everything she can to avoid getting caught up in the Swan season. But then the town is flooded with tourists, and a mysterious boy named Bo arrives. He becomes entangled in the town’s lore, all while remaining skeptical. But he has secrets of his own, and Penny cannot reveal her own secrets either.

As you can tell from my rating, I loved this book. The setting pulled me in immediately. I am a huge fan of books that take place in small towns that contain some spooky lore. I am from one myself, so while the book may be haunting and mysterious, the overall ambiance reminded me of home.  And it was strangely cozy to me.

As usual, here are my thoughts on what I liked and disliked.

The Good:

  • The setting. Sparrow is a haunted town. While this book may be a great read during Halloween, it is interesting that it is set in June. I don’t associate paranormal books with summer, so this was a very unique change for me. Also Sparrow is a coastal town, so the wickedness of the sea is always present.
  • The legend. I love how the lore of the Swan sisters and witch craft were the constant focal points of the story. Everyone in town believed and accepted it, to the point where I grew a bit concerned about how they allowed things to get so out of hand (more on that below).
  • The romance. There are a few romances in the book, and all of them tore at my heart strings. Seriously, I will get teary-eyed if I keep talking about it. There is a bit of insta-love but I think the author created a good balance between a new romance while staying true to the mysterious elements of the story.
  • The writing. Ernshaw’s writing is magical, beautiful, and realistic. I could feel myself completely immersed in Sparrow. I could feel the wind chill, see the fog, taste the fruit and cakes, and smell the bonfires. I was also continuously guessing the twists and felt like I couldn’t trust anybody. That makes for a good story in my opinion!

The Bad:

  • While I loved Bo, I wish his character had more dimension. He is a very mysterious character, and I felt like we didn’t get enough of him.
  • Without saying any spoilers, I wanted to address a certain part in the book that bothered me because someone was used in a very personal way. While I know this book’s entire premise is based around spirits inhabiting a body, this particular scene rubbed me the wrong way.
  • The nonchalant attitude of the adults in Sparrow. Like, boys are drowning. Maybe try a little harder to protect them? Put everyone on lockdown for a few weeks? Call the coast guard? LOL SOMETHING!?

Overall, this was another 5 star read for me! I loved the journey this book took me on, the romance, the town, the legends. I’m in such a witchy mood that I now need to read all the witchy books! So, hit me up. Tell me some of your witchy or paranormal favorites! If you decide to read The Wicked Deep, please let me know your thoughts. Happy reading!