The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.
The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina is a lush read. The shifts through time and points of view gave me a feeling that everything was happening at once, but also slowly unfolding petal by petal. Time winds and rewinds through the story, through the lives of the Montoyas. It adds layers to the story, but no illumination, until the pieces are in place.
For all it’s fluidity, time is important, if only because Orquidea is born at a moment of cosmic convergence granting her the worst of luck – an unwanted bastard child. Place is important, too. Orquidea raises herself on the banks of the river running through Guayaquil, Ecuador and then raises her family in the dying valley she brings back to life in the middle of the American Midwest. The house in Four Rivers is the place she could never leave and the heart of the family, though most of her children and grand children leave in frustration.
I’m sure other people will have very smart things to say about symbolism and generational trauma. I got caught up in the story. Zoraida Cordova winds the tension so slowly around your throat that you don’t realize your caught until you are. She moves so effortlessly from the magical to the commonplace that some magical elements seem perfectly normal, while others are shocking. This one is going to end up on a lot of best of 2021 lists.