Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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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+.

The Accidental Witch by Jessica Penot

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I don’t remember the last time I read about modern witches, so I figured I’d check this one out. A broken psychologist who finds out she has special powers? Sign me up.

The story itself was interesting. The author took a lot of tropes that we all love from the witchcraft genre and made them into something new. Mysterious books, old houses, evil demons, and tattoo spells – I can see this being a great Charmed episode. This book isn’t YA, so there’s plenty of adult themes as well, which is nice.

I liked that all the characters were flawed but also likable. I understood their actions, even when they seemed like the opposite of what they should have done. It gave the book a realistic feel. I truly enjoyed reading it.

However, there were two things that were quite down-putting. The first is the lack of editing. The publisher either didn’t hire an editor or hired someone who was drunk while editing. I felt like I was a beta reader instead of someone who actually purchased this book because all I wanted to do was write down a list of the mistakes I saw and send it over. And there are a lot. From typos, to wrong word choice (effect vs affect, etc), to blatant plot contradictions that could and should have been caught. If I was the publisher, I would do a reprint of the book to fix all the mistakes because it’s really unprofessional on their part to release this. However, it’s not (100%) on the author’s head so I’m quite forgiving on that front.

The second issue is a pet peeve of mine. The MC suffers from body dysmorphia, so I understand her thinking she’s fat and ugly when she’s not. But all the other characters are also pulled into it, so that every character we see who is overweight is automatically described as ugly, while blonde skinny and big boobs are automatically hot. Blegh. I had to go back and check to see if the writer was a man because I don’t usually see women use that kind of outlook. I get it, the book is from the MC’s POV, but it bothered me.

Overall, I thought it was a well developed plot and I enjoyed reading it. It wasn’t super long winded so that’s a plus. A good book to read about witches when it’s been a while.

 

Cross-posted to My Trending Stories.