Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

by Zoraida Córdova

3.74 of 5 stars 19 ratings • 11 reviews • 52 shelved
Book cover for Labyrinth Lost

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Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

by Zoraida Córdova

3.74 of 5 stars 19 ratings • 11 reviews • 52 shelved
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

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 boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...
  • ISBN13 9781492620945
  • Publish Date 6 September 2016
  • Publish Status Out of Stock
  • Out of Print 9 March 2021
  • Publish Country US
  • Imprint Sourcebooks, Inc
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 336
  • Language English

Reviews

Avatar for tweetybugshouse

This is the story of a girl who due to her Some traumatic childhood situations has decided she hates who she is and does not want any part of her family Bruja magic. At her death day party, she makes a decision to alter that path which her family is thrusting her down. She wishes to lose her powers and not become a Bruja witch. Instead of getting what she wants her whole family disappears and she off on a journey to another world to find them. The first part of the book actually really set the tone of the story for me cause that where you get all the info dumping. Usually, that can make a story really sink and fast but if your not familiar with the background of Bruja, death day, and Mexican religion you need some groundwork to be laid. I think the author did a great job of this and I was able to follow along with the story.
The second half of the book is the real meat of our story as that when Alex really starts to learn about what she has given up, our romance comes which thankfully was not given away in the blurb, and the world building between Brooklyn and Los Lagos really make the story unique.

I love the main lesson of this story is that we all want to be ordinary especially in our teen years. But what is ordinary, instead this story teaches us that we are all unique and as you wander the maze with Alex and discover that we are all built to be a certain way and we are not just some mold that acts and reacts like everyone else. This is a lesson all teens and some adults need to learn what makes us different is what makes us you.

The epilogue sets us up really well to follow in the next book in the series and excited to see what happens to Alex now that she accepted really and truly who she is.

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leahrosereads 4 of 5 stars
Before I give my thoughts, let's talk diversity. Alex, the main character and her family and a lot of the people in this story are POCs with Latin American descent. There's also bi representation (or I read it as bi-rep. Please correct me if it's lesbian representation).

Also, not diversity or representation, but I feel it's important to note that the adults in this YA book are around and care. Sure shenanigans happen, but it's not due to an absentee family. Family bonds are very important to not only this book, but it's sequel. And, I feel that's important to note.

Onto my thoughts. Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It was a five starrer until I read Bruja Born and realized that I really, really loved that one, so I dropped this to 4 stars.

Alex is a bruja who'd rather go to school, go to college, and get away. She's seen some shit that makes her reject the magic in her life to some pretty extreme consequences. I thought she was a very realistic character full of faults and dreams and desires and obligations. It was refreshing to read something so very real in a story that was so fantastical.

The world within this book is exceptional. There's of course our New York (muggles, Grey London, ya know, the place for the mundane), and then there's this other world(s) where lost souls stay, birdlike creatures starve, and a terrible darkness sucks the life out of it in the hopes to escape into another world.

And Alex has to work to try and fix it and more. It's a heartbreaking tale at times and filled with fear and courage and everything that makes a person human.

I cannot wait for the rest of the series, and I definitely plan on looking into this author's backlist for more to read until the 3rd book arrives.

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Stephanie 3 of 5 stars
This was okay. I enjoyed all the bruja/brujo magic stuff that I was so unfamiliar with, but the story didn't have as much urgency as I would have liked.

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Heather 4 of 5 stars
I heard about this book through the #DSFFBookClub (Diverse Sci Fi/Fantasy) on Twitter a few months ago. From the description somehow I got the impression that this took place in Mexico and perhaps was set in the past. That isn't true at all.

Alex is part of a family of witches in Brooklyn in the present day. Their numbers are dwindling. Alex has been hiding the fact that her powers have appeared because they are very strong and they scare her. She also thinks that magic has been responsible for a lot of the problems in her family. She doesn't want anything to do with it.

She accidentally reveals her powers at school while defending her friend Rishi from a bully. Now her family is planning her Death Day, a traditional celebration of a young bruja's power. Alex doesn't want anything to do with it. She decides to try to relinquish her powers during the ceremony but her attempt to use a canto goes wrong. Her family (living and dead) is banished to another realm and now Alex has to try to get them back.

I liked the depiction of a family for whom magic is a normal and expected part of everyday life. The next book in the series is going to focus on her sister Lula who is a healer.

This book uses a lot of YA Fantasy tropes but twists them in small ways so they weren't totally annoying.

There was a love triangle in this book which I absolutely hate but instead of a perfect girl trying to decide between two guys who love her here she is deciding between a girl and a guy. (I'm still waiting for my dream book where the two objects of affection decide they don't need the perfect one and go off together.)

Alex is, of course, the Chosen One who can fix everything. She's the most powerful witch in generations. Only she can defeat the bad guy. At the end though she had to accept help from others. She does also acknowledge that part of her wants to take all the power and be a despot too.

There is a point where a person who has hurt Alex tries to explain that it was all ok because this person loves Alex so much. She ultimately rejects that but it teetered on the brink. It was a little too close to "stalking is ok because this person loves you SO MUCH" for my liking.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am interested to read the rest of the series when it comes out.


This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story

Avatar for kozbisa

Alex comes from a long line of powerful witches, or brujas. Her younger sister has the sight; her older sister can heal people, however, it appears as though Alex has not yet come into her powers. Yes, it appears that her powers have not manifested, but in reality, she is very powerful, and blames magic for all her problems. Alex longs to rid herself of her magic, and her attempt at the canto results in her family being sent to another realm from which Alex must rescue them.

This book was such an adventure. There are so many things Cordova does right in this novel.

  • The characters are very well developed. I felt like I was well acquainted with Nova and Alex. Cordova gave so much backstory on the two, I was totally able to understand their motives. She also crafted wonderful secondary characters: Lady, Lula, Rose, Alex's mom, and Aunt Ro were well drawn, and enriched the story.

  • The cultural and magical aspects were so interesting. I am NOT well versed in brujas, therefore, I ate up everything Cordova had to offer regarding this subject. From the descriptions of the clothing and hair, to the food and dance, she really painted a vivid picture of Alex's world for me. And the magic! The magic was pretty fantastic, and the author integrated a through knowledge base of bruja magic so seamlessly into the story. I never felt like I was in the middle of an info dump, but I did feel well prepared to understand what was going on in the story.

  • The relationships in this book were so special. I loved the family bond between the sisters, and the way each generation contributed to the shaping of the next. That was just such a beautiful thing. I also really liked the bruja community aspect. I felt the warmth and the love.



A lot of reviewers are taking about the romantic aspect. There is a love triangle, where Alex is attracted to both a boy and a girl. It's there. It is a minor part of the story, but I think it's great that it's there, in addition to the entire cast appearing to be people of color.

To me, this was a coming of age story for a bruja. She had to confront her past in order to embrace her purpose. It was also a story of family, and how she loved without boundaries.

Overall: A thrilling adventure with a rich cultural and magical side.

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kait 3 of 5 stars
I didn’t love this book at first, until about halfway through when there was a bit of a twist on where I had thought things were going. I loved the worldbuilding and the Latina flavour to the bruja culture. I’m generally not a fan of portal fantasy or urban fantasy but I didn’t mind it here as Córdova’s take was just so fresh. Even her use of fey felt like a unique on a timeworn trope, which is hard to do.

Also of note is that Alex, the main character, is bisexual. I love how Córdova handled the romantic elements to this novel. Alex and Rishi’s relationship is sweet, Alex and Nova butt heads but in a way that reveals they do care for each other. Rishi and Nova just want to tear each other apart. I thought the nuances to this love triangle were really well done and obviously it was so great to read about an explicitly bisexual main character.

The writing wasn’t to my taste a lot of the time and it felt heavy-handed at times. The plot did feel simplistic to me at times and I had a hard time connecting with Alex. That being said, I would still recommend this book with the caveat that the writing feels very juvenile at times and I do still think it’s worth reading for Córdova’s worldbuilding and character development.

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Austine (NovelKnight) 3 of 5 stars
This book was provided by NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Magic is running rampant this year and Labyrinth Lost is no exception. Cordova introduces us to brujas (not witches) and there are a bunch in Brooklyn. Go figure. But this is the story of a bruja who isn't so eager to accept her magical gift and the lengths she will go to avoid it end up causing a whole new string of problems.

Starting out, I really enjoyed Labyrinth Lost. Cordova creates a vivid world of family and magic that I could really get in to. I didn't blink at the lack of detail when it came to the characters because, hey, it's only the first few chapters. All of that will come later, right? The problem is that it didn't and while the world-building was strong, the characters weren't.

I immediately got a "Chosen One" vibe from Alex. She didn't want her magic, was scared of it, and we all know how that one goes. Turns out she's an all-powerful bruja the likes of which haven't been seen in a long time. Not only that, but the beings in Los Lagos where she ends up fairly early on in the book think she's a savior. If the shoe fits...

There's also the appearance of a love triangle and while I appreciate that it wasn't completely stereotypical, it's still there and I never felt like she really connected to either love interest in a way that warranted anything more than friendship. This book gives Alex both a male and female love interest (though the synopsis only suggests the first). As much as I appreciate the addition of the second because there's a need for more representation in books, it didn't work for me. Not because of the female/female pairing but because of the characters. There was no connection between Alex or EITHER of her two romance prospects so it felt superficial when added into the plot.

In general, I never felt like any of the characters really grew through the story. Alex followed the path of the Chosen One, so I guess that's as close as you'd get, but that's about it. The rest of the cast had a couple descriptors that appeared over and over to define them but that was it. They fell flat and I found myself distanced from them and, in turn, the story.

And while none of the characters were truly memorable, the villain, called The Devourer and supposedly evil incarnate, could've been a butterfly for all the harm she did. I never felt like she was a true threat to Alex who, with her Chosen One aura, could do no wrong and overcome every challenge with surprising ease regardless of her physical state. The Devourer was more of a name, a faceless shadow that was supposed to be all badass but really fell short in the end.

But that isn't to say that I disliked this book. There's a LOT of action throughout as Alex and Nova battle monsters and overcome one obstacle after the next to reach her family. It felt like a good book for a mini-series the way each challenge is somewhat separate from the others leading into the final battle at the end. I was hooked by the world and the promise of magical mayhem akin to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, finishing most of Labyrinth Lost in one sitting.

I think that, as the first in a series, this was an okay book. I definitely want to see more character development in future installments as without that, I'm likely to let this series go. But the world is solid and there's a lot of potential and interesting ideas that I can see moving forward.

Avatar for bentbookworm

3.5/5 stars. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn't at all sure what to expect - it seemed like it was trying really hard to do a lot of things. Cultural diversity, magic, a new underworld, bisexuality...it's a lot to blend into one story. Zoraida Cordova actually manages to do it quite well!

Alex is a bruja who doesn't want the exceptional power she's been granted. In the beginning she struck me as a whiny, ungrateful little brat. I can understand her resentment and not being entirely free to choose her own path, but her attempt at rejecting her power puts her entire family in danger - albeit unintentionally.



However, she immediately sets off to rescue them and is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost. So, props to her for that. She loves her family with an intensity beyond anything else, even if they don't always see eye to eye or get along. She's incredibly stubborn, to the point of insisting that complete strangers help her on her quest.



It got bogged down a little over 1/3 of the way through. When the setting shifted to Los Lagos (the underworld, essentially), it floundered somewhat. Especially with the arrival of certain characters - like, really? Rishi? Where did that come from? How did she get her fake wings? How did she know to bring them, if she brought them with her? I feel like Madre didn't give them to her. I'm still vaguely suspicious of the way her arrival was "explained." I honestly thought she was one of the bird-women for awhile. Guess the fake wings should have ruled that out but it was just so abrupt and essentially unexplained. Rishi's quick, unquestioning acceptance of Alex's magic and all it entails really bothered me too. No muggle (sorry) is going to just unblinkingly accept an entirely new world and the ability to conjure fire, no matter how much in love with the bruja you are. However, after several chapters where I struggled, it picked back up and carried on and was much clearer. I think maybe a little more description would have benefited the story.

"It's love, Alex. Love is you jumping through a portal despite your own safety. Love is mom singing in the car and Rose making tea when we're sick and even us fighting because we're blood, and no matter what you do, I'll never forget that you are my sister."


Family comes first - that's the mantra I kept seeing over and over again. I'm a little envious of Alex's relationship with her sisters, to be honest. I'm not very familiar with Hispanic culture and was really intrigued by how it's portrayed here. Of course I can't vouch for accuracy, but given the author's background I would think it would be pretty spot-on. Alex's family is not distinctly one country or another. She is a vibrant mix of many countries and people and Cordova really wove that into her and her magic. Oh! The magic. Magic in this world has a price that must always be paid, by someone, somewhere. It isn't free or easy. It marks you. Alex and her family do not have a rosy-glass view of magic - as perhaps illustrated by the Deathly celebration for marking when a bruja or burro comes into their powers.

Also I love that bisexuality is given a normal viewpoint. Which is a really rough way of saying...well, it wasn't anything special. And I don't mean that in a bad way! I just mean that it was treated as completely normal, nothing to be shocked or surprised by. Normal. Healthy. Accepted. Supported. Books with characters like this are sorely needed in literature, when so much of the world is so full of hate for anything different from them.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what happens in the next one! The ending was a definite cliffhanger, though not with as much shock value as I feel like was intended. Still, I was definitely a little put out that there wasn't a next chapter! Haha.

Many thanks to Netgalley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Avatar for pinkadot89

Angie 3 of 5 stars
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

I was super excited for Labyrinth Lost, but I think I built it up too much in my head. I definitely still enjoyed it a lot though, but mostly for the lore and world building rather than the things that drew me to it in the first place. Alex is a bruja, but she wants to get rid of her magic. Her family thinks that her powers haven't manifested yet, but Alex has been trying to keep them suppressed. But then she makes a snake crawl out of a boy's throat and her secret is out. Alex isn't giving up on trying to expel her magic, but then she accidentally makes her entire family disappear instead.

Labyrinth Lost has a lot of interesting lore surrounding the brujas. I loved learning about them! The Deathday celebration was super interesting and a bit creepy. But it was Los Lagos that really drew me in. It's this kind of afterlife, Wonderland, Neverland, limbo, weirdness. Alex enlists the help of the mysterious Nova to help get her there to save her family, and their journey is nothing less than strange. It really did remind me a lot of Alice in Wonderland, but more dangerous.

Where Labyrinth Lost disappointed me a bit was in the plot. It's a pretty typical "chosen one" type of plot where Alex doesn't want this amazing power, but she needs it to do big things. She not only has to get her family back, but she winds up having to save the inhabitants of Los Lagos from a powerful evil. I just wasn't as into that as I had hoped. I felt like I had read this story many times. Everything is wrapped up as nicely as I expected. There is an epilogue which ends on a cliffhanger, but it's not one that I actually cared about.

There is a very minor romance in Labyrinth Lost, and it was one of the elements that initially had me most excited. Alex is bisexual, although that's never explicitly stated. She's attracted to and annoyed by Nova, but it's her best friend Rishi who really captures her attention. There's a few adorable stolen glances and hand holding and kissing, but nothing that screams Romance. I do hope to see more of their relationship development in future books.

In the end, I liked Labyrinth Lost. The plot was predictable and didn't fully engage me, but I was completely drawn in by the world created.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.

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Beth C. 4 of 5 stars
Teenage years can be such a struggle - parents, school, expectations, siblings...throw in the expectations of your ancestors as well, and it gets just that much more complicated. Such is the case for Alex, whose family members for generations have been brujas - witches. While her sisters' powers have been evident for some time, Alex has been hiding hers and truly wants to reject what she sees as more a curse than gift. When she finally tried to do so, she ends up sending her entire family - past and present - into another world, where they are held captive. The only one left to free them is Alex herself.

I enjoyed this store very much - the magic system and rituals were fascinating, and the spirits often felt like characters themselves as they manifested. There is a touch of LGBT within the story, so if that bothers you...your loss, as it's minor and excellently done. I won't say more so as to avoid any spoilers.

Overall, I enjoyed the story more than I thought I would and would happily read more along this line from the author. It was entertaining and yet managed to be respectful of culture, ancestors, and beliefs that many authors may have struggled to pull off. Well done!