My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4.5 rounded down to 4.
“The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosario, she was dancing.”
Labyrinth Lost is unequivocally a book about what it’s like to be a Latinx girl who identifies with yet struggles against her family’s identity, history and expectations of her. It’s about how you define yourself by your family and despite it. Sure, there is magic and brujas. Yes, our main characters are dropped into an alternate magical dimension (possibly heaven/hell?) to rescue the family she’s banished after a spell gone wrong. But this book takes the disparate themes and melds them into one fantastic story.
“Calling or no calling, a bruja’s got to pay the bills.”
Off the bat, this book appealed to me because of the Latinx MC and family. I am the daughter of Cuban immigrants and I’m always intrigued to see other takes on Latin culture in YA. Alex’s relationship with her family, a family of brujas, is so reminiscent of my childhood experiences. Surrounded by a family that is constantly questioning and pushing her to be what they expect of her, wanting more from her, challenging her. There is one line that I felt so authentically captured what it’s like to grow up Latin: “There’s chattering from the audience and the dead.” Your sense of self is drawn from your family, for better or worse and Zoraida Cordova did a beautiful job capturing this reality and capturing it authentically.
“It’s my turn to shape the galaxies.”
I loved how head strong Alex is. For good or bad, she makes her own decisions and follows through, even if it’s to right her wrongs. She’s fiercely loyal to her family and friends and tries to give her all for them. She’s a character that I really like, flaws and all.
Both the magic and the magical world and world/rule-building element really appealed to me and was expertly handled. The magical world of Brooklyn/Los Lagos was explained without too much exposition, but enough for your to feel vested in the worlds and buy into the everyday magic of a world full of Brujas and Brujos living amongst the rest of us. I particularly loved the parallels between Alex’s adventures in Los Lagos and Alice in Wonderland. The Wonderland experience was diversified and beautifully steeped in Latin folklore adding a very interesting spin on the very popular tale.
“We’re chain links of desperation attached to one another.”
The diversity in this book did not just belong to the world and characters in it, but to Alex’s love life. She was unabashedly, without any explanation required bi-sexual. It’s the first time I can remember reading a character so comfortable with herself and her feelings and I found that revelation so refreshing. This is a book that normalizes those feelings for teens who may be questioning or unsure.
Overall, this book was a magical, diverse, Latinx journey that reads quickly and beautifully. I have recommended it to my young cousins and my adult friends. It’s a book that everyone can take something from.