Cussing is not normally where I go, but the reading of this made my blood boil at times… Check out why…
Brooklyn Brujas #1
by Zoraida Córdova
Published September 6, 2016
by Sourcebooks Fire
Alex comes from a family of brujas. When she learns she is an Encantrix she is NOT happy as she doesn’t want anything to do with her family’s magic. Determined not to fall in line with anyone’s wishes but her own she casts a spell to get rid of her power at her Deathday celebration. It curses her entire family to Los Lagos, a sort of limbo for the dead. To guide her is Nova, a brujo boy whose intentions are not pure and her best friend, Rishi who sees her as more than just a friend.
This is NOT a book about romance. Don’t get me wrong, there is romance and a love triangle but it isn’t the be all to end all. This is how romance should be done! Many will be fans of the F/F relationship and the fact that Alex is unforgivingly bisexual. Nothing is made of the fact that she is attracted to both her guide and her friend, not even by Alex herself. This makes it seem like Alex is focused on finding her family and freeing them from whatever horrible situation she cast them into. I can really appreciate this!!
Her family is STRONG! I mean its still totally messed up (her dad has left), her godmother aunt is dead and her sister and mother sacrifice too much to their magic in Alex’s opinion. Her little sister is so cute (and her ability is so cool!) Her older sister is to be admired: pretty, giving and willing to be a friend to her younger sister. Even though her sisters irritate Alex it’s clear they have an unbreakable bond. Her extended family is well represented (Lady, her aunt by marriage, etc) and I totally fell for their way of life and community!!
Alex is a POC, living in Brooklyn, and totally represents the Latin American culture. This came out very strongly in the way the family came together for her death day, helped one another and were so interconnected. Of all the elements to highlight about the Latin culture (besides the cool idea of the brujas) I was so happy she focused on their love of family!! We need more books like this written about other cultures (than American) and by people who represent those cultures and give us a feel of what it is to be a part of their world.
“Spells are for witches. Brujas do cantos.
All brujas are witches but not all witches are brujas.”
I LOVED the bruja and brujo idea for a magic system. I liked the idea that Alex was the premier bruja who could do everything. What we learned about the gifts of her family and the cantos they use for their spells is super cool and felt like they came from her Latin culture.
“That’s the thing, my love. Even if you don’t think of the dead, the dead are thinking of you.”
The plot was weak in Brooklyn but once we got to Los Lagos the plot was very strong. I liked almost every one of their difficulties. I liked the Los Lagos creation story with the spirit realm where trees and plants started to grow and creatures which couldn’t be on earth were sent by the deos. I loved when Rishi came into the picture and the faun king and his meadowkin were super cool as was their role in stopping Alex. I even appreciated how Alex maneuvered through Los Lagos after that because she was finally accepting that her magic was necessary. The world building was all over the place; filled with stellar ideas but developed shallowly. Cool stuff happens but the conflict is very light to nonexistent. The romance doesn’t interfere with the story because the romance you think would work (between Rishi and Alex feels more like two best friends not potential lovers) and while a relationship between Nova and Alex could potentially be that of enemies to lovers I still didn’t particularly like the by play between them. I had nothing I wanted to root for so I just didn’t.
The real problem. I say it singularly because it is totally being in Alex’s head. I know I’ve been raving about her but her stats and how she is in the course of the book are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! She sounds good on paper but then in her narrative you read how everything is about her and how she hates this and that. I really disliked her for how whiny she is. If she would have just listened to her sister or talked to her mother or any of her extended family who love her she never would have done any of this. She wasn’t deceived or gullible – she was selfish. It was her way or the highway. I know all the writing books say to sock it to the protagonist and make their negative trait really rotten but Alex has the corner market on selfish. At 30% this is what I said: “I hate reading about selfish b****es! I’m so tired of the special snowflakes that are all badass and I’m gonna control everything and then are so shocked when they have to screw their loved ones and still don’t get their way! That’s right, you b****, you got what you paid for! … While it’s awful what happened to those that foolishly love this selfish girl, I’d rather they rot in hell and her have to live with the consequences of her actions…”
The twist was well done and I didn’t see it coming. Unfortunately I wasn’t sure if that was because it was well done or if I just didn’t care. The foreshadowing of the twist is pretty heavy through the book, I should have seen it coming a mile away (as I see most twists) but since I didn’t I suspect it is the latter. I didn’t hate the end but boy was I glad it was over.
BOTTOM LINE: A protagonist that kills an incredible story…
Her family told her this death day was quote “to control your power” end quote, what the hell did Alex think that meant?! Do the ceremony get your bruja hormones under control then never use your powers again you dumbass… I could believe she did this canto if she had been doing them on a minor scale all her life, but this was her first one! Why are you surprised by the outcome?! I find it really hard to follow a character this stupid. Selfish is a lot to suffer but stupid on top of it is so much worse!! There is no gradual realization that her magic is not bad only sudden needs to use the magic to go forward. Hate magic. Hate magic. Then suddenly using magic all over the place. This is not a character arc. We don’t believe something so strongly that we cast our family into limbo without a thought then we suddenly make an 180 degree turn just because we were thoughtless.