Alex Mortiz is a bruja* and really doesn’t want to be one. She comes from a long line of brujas and brujos. Both her older and younger sisters have come into their gifts, but Alex is low-key hoping hers don’t kick in. Magic has never made anything in Alex’s life better; in fact, it has been key in making a lot of things worse.
Alas, if Alex’s powers never came in, this would be a very short story. When they emerge in full force, Alex does the unthinkable: she tries to send them back. Unfortunately, this inadvertently leads to sending her entire family to a hell dimension. Now she has to get them back.
The journey through hell to save her family is relatively predictable. The villain isn’t overly scary and the story hits predictable beats. Labyrinth Lost is a run-of-the-mill story of a young person coming into his/her own power. The stars here are mostly for the way Córdova writes her characters.
It’s always nice when your older male relatives tell you how great it is to be a woman now, like I was an androgynous experiment before.
Alex feels like a realistic sixteen without being extra. She’s scared and selfish as well as brave and loyal. She’s snarky, fights with her sisters, and is simultaneously crushing on her friend Rishi and tattooed bad boy Nova.
Labyrinth Lost is the first in a series that ends in a twist (that you could see coming from a mile away) but this story is self-contained.
This is a mixed recommend. The book had a lot of positive acclaim last year, but I don’t know that I think it’s a future classic of the genre that one really ought to read. If you’re into YA, especially if you enjoy YA fantasy, this is a good one for your list. If not, I’d wait for the buzz on the rest of the series before making the call.
*While Córdova uses the terms brujo/bruja, the mythology here is not actual brujeria; it’s an independent creation. Still set in a Latinx context, but a whole new thing.