I’m not going to lie, the main reason I got this book is because I saw a bunch of people say it had great f/f bi representation. I’m more into traditional fantasy versus modern, but I still put it on my list, and finally got the chance to read it.
And it was…good. At least that’s how I would describe my feelings after finishing it. I’ll go into more depth here.
First off, it had an amazing diverse cast. Alex’s family reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys’ Blue’s family (which was my favorite thing about that series) but they weren’t your typical white witches. The entire book seeped that Latin American vibe and I LOVED it. I felt like I was immersed in that world, and not once did I see the characters as default-white.
Speaking of the world, oh my Dios, Los Lagos was incredible. It’s no surprise this was picked up for a movie. People compare it to Alice in Wonderland but I disagree. To me it’s more like OZ. There are witches and fairies and everything is alive and filled with magic but not insane or silly magic – real and dangerous and sorrowful. They aren’t mad, they’re surviving.
So then, what, might you ask, is the problem?
There is no problem. It was written well, the bi-love-triangle-that-wasn’t-really-a-love-triangle was fairly well done, and it paced itself perfectly well and wrapped up perfectly well. I liked the characters, there were some twists I didn’t see coming, and overall I enjoyed it.
So, once again, why did it take me a month longer that it should have to finish? I kept putting it down to do other things. At first I couldn’t figure out why. And then I did.
It was that the whole thing felt like a Pixar movie. Somehow, the way it was written, with its little sweet interactions and Alex’s innocence and the darkness and evil and death being so surreal that I saw it in my head like a beautiful animated film. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. I love Pixar movies. They have that darkness while still giving us hope and love and a happy ending. This book was about family and self acceptance, and that’s wonderful, but Alex could have been 13 and it would have still been completely appropriate. Actually, I think it would have been better. Made her a stronger character.
A lot of reviewers are saying they thought it wasn’t intense enough so they didn’t feel scared for the characters, but I think it’s actually that it was too intense. Every corner was life or death, every vision a mirage, every escape deemed impossible. The explanation of ‘magic’ just wasn’t enough to make up for the sheer amount of running and fighting and bleeding and still being able to give more. It was, as I said earlier, surreal, thus taking it into a whole new territory. Still, it’s not a -bad- thing. It’s how this book was laid out and it was great. I just think many of us readers couldn’t relate to the darkness because it’s too cartoony in a way.
All in all, a great story that would make a great Pixar animated film, but I think the target audience is middle grade/teen, not young adult+.