Thank you so much to both Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book!
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is one of the most interesting books that I’ve read so far this year. Really, how can it not be with brujas and brujos, Deathdays that are of greater importance than birthdays, magic and such? It’s like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch meets some Alice in the Wonderland with dashes of morbidity—and gee willikers, doesn’t that sound like something delightful?
Well, unfortunately, despite the incredibly intriguing premise, this book fell short of being ‘super duper awesome’ by more than a couple of kilometres and I’m devastated. Completely and utterly devastated at how a book with so much potential could have this happen to it.
Now, what went wrong? The first big no-no of this book is the characters. Alejandra “Alex” Mortiz is a Special Snowflake. Okay, the summary of the book already told me that she’s “the most powerful witch in a generation…and [that] she hates magic” but sheesh, does she have to be the (un)pretty heroine too? Does she have to have absent parents (her mom didn’t really do much mom-like things in this book)? Does she have to be The One Who Changes His Mind/Heart? And yes, I hated that last one the most. Although I’m happy that there isn’t an exact love triangle (I have no idea what to make of Rishi, though I’m perfectly fine if what she shares with Alex is a romantic love) here, there is no real need for Nova to be present in this book as well. He’s your typical ‘bad boy’ with a sob story and all that usual jazz, and oh no! That twist! It’s so not a twist. Dear Gods, it was obvious since the very beginning what kind of person Nova is. I mean, it’s practically written that there’s something fishy about him! That stunt he pulled in the epilogue be damned, because that’s no saving grace at all since his presence is practically the reason why Alex becomes the Special Snowflake Blinded With Teenage Hormones despite the fact that she should’ve been feeling incredibly panicked that her family had been taken away from her. Like excuse me, who the hell has time to stare at some boy’s naked chest when your entire family can die any moment?
Also, Rishi. Rishi, Rishi, Rishi. You’re the most foolishly optimistic idiot I’ve ever read about, ever. She’s like the child in this story and that’s saying something because Alex is one of those incredibly stupid heroines incapable of logical thinking as well. Furthermore, there’s not much point in Rishi’s existence as well. Honestly, what’s the point of throwing Nova and Rishi in this story when you can give Alex’s sisters more meaningful roles? I’m pretty certain that this book would’ve been much better had the story circled around the Mortiz sisters trying to save the rest of their family instead. Moreover, what’s the point of having so many characters when all of them are so flat that they can be used as airplane runways? What’s the point of having so many characters when the main ones barely even feel human? When Alex can’t even bring a sense of urgency to the story like how a normal person would when their beloved is in danger?
The next no-no in this story is the convenience of everything. At no point of this story did Alex struggle greatly to solve a conflict. She either had her powers do it for her (“recoil” moments notwithstanding because I didn’t actually feel any degree of worry that the recoils would leave a great negative impact at all), the people she met, the spirits and such. Additionally, isn’t the Devourer (the primary antagonist here) such a nice person? She’s like Voldemort who waits for the end of the school year before he tries to kill Harry.
Another no-no in this book would be the fact that many paragraphs could’ve been better worded. Some parts felt disjointed, some of the dialogues were needless, and the chapters near the end felt very rushed—as though Córdova was trying to complete her manuscript in time for her deadline. There were also quite a number of typos and some rather questionable scenes (how does a child in a room two flights of stairs above the basement hear someone in said basement clapping and talking in the midst of other noises? [p.1-4]) too.
So yes, due to the cons stated above, this book has fallen slightly below average for me. There are certain lines and paragraphs that I loved, and I was delighted when Alex went all “semantics” since it’s something I often say in real life (p.11). I just wished Labyrinth Lost was better written and less clichéd because it truly has a premise with great potential.