“Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.
Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…” (via Goodreads)
Bruja Born opens a few months after the thrilling events of Labyrinth Lost. Lula has lost her way. Although she hasn’t been to a therapist, she likely has some form of PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety from the literal hell she went through. Because she can’t talk to her boyfriend Maks about what ails her – or, more accurately, won’t talk to him, or anyone else for that matter – he ends it. Soon after that he and thirty or so other students are killed in a mysterious bus accident. Lula is the only survivor. Distraught from grief and the trauma from Los Lagos, she and her sisters, encantrix Alex and seer Rose, cast a spell to bring him back from the dead. The spell goes awry and Maks comes back…wrong. And not just Maks. Other undead – here called casimuertos – are roaming New York City and eating the hearts out of their victims and turning more into killing machines. Meanwhile, Lula’s spell also inadvertently trapped Death. The Big Apple’s resident supernatural beasties and monster hunters get in on the action, and everything spirals out of control.
Compared to Bruja Born, Labyrinth Lost is a quaint story about a trip into the Underworld. Zoraida Córdova ups the ante considerably in the sequel, and never lets her characters rest. This book gives “action-packed” a whole new meaning. It’s frantic and frenetic, in the best possible way.
I didn’t love Lula as much as I did Alex, and partly that’s because we never really see why she’s so attached to Maks in the first place. He doesn’t get much of a personality pre-death, and once he’s undead he’s either trying to eat Lula’s heart or is a pale imitation of a person. Why does she love him? What does he offer her? Who knows. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help Lula any. However, the non-Maks parts of her are wicked cool. Not sure how I feel about the potential new love interest who turns up toward the end, but at least he has a personality.
What truly hooked me was how much Córdova expanded the Brooklyn Brujas world in Bruja Born. The world she’s built is awesomely exciting and full of intriguing possibilities. In many ways I’m reminded of how Charlaine Harris built her Sookie Stackhouse world. Say what you want about the quality of that series, but the worldbuilding was *chef’s kiss*. What started off as a rural fantasy about a couple of vampires branched out into this vast international supernatural society complete with political intrigue and interspecies romance. Likewise, Córdova took a family of witches and expanded it into a world of hunters, monsters, and zombies. I can’t wait to see where she goes next.
For my review of the Brooklyn Brujas series (books 1-2), head over on Tor.com.
Maks and I have been dating for two years. That’s two years of dates. Two years of I love yous and I want you forevers. Two years of going to sleep reading his messages, of hearing his voice just before I drifted off and dreaming about us together. Maks wasn’t the first boy to tell me I was beautiful. But when he said it, when he kissed the inside of my wrist and wrote it over and over again, You’re beautiful. I love you, I believed him.
I roll down the window. My scars burn and I flip down the sun visor and double check that Alex’s canto is holding up. There I am. I look like the old me even if I don’t feel like her.
Maks pulls into the school parking lot behind the gym and puts the car in park. He taught me how to parallel park even though I don’t have my license. It’s a weird memory, but it pops into my head as he unbuckles his seat belt and holds the steering wheel with a white-knuckle grip.
“Maks.” My voice is small because I know what comes next.
He breathes in long and deep, as if to steady himself. “I think we should break up.”
Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.