Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Labyrinth Lost Blog Tour: Q&A + Review

Hi friends, Today I am lucky enough to be part of Labyrinth Lost Blog Tour. Labyrinth Lost was a book I was super eager to get my hands on upon hearing all about it moons ago. As chance would have it Raincoast announced they were hosting a blog tour in partnership with Zoraida Cordova and here we are. Keep reading to see what Zoraida has to say to the question I asked her. And I've got my review on the book(spoiler; it's good, guys) too.


Zoraida Cordova: Zoraida C√≥rdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and Labyrinth Lost. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro

Q & A

Brittany: With the importance of We Need Diverse Books and #ownvoices, and just the general whitewashing in the SFF genres; How important was it for you to showcase your culture and be inclusive by having LGBTQ+ characters in a fantasy novel? I love how the Latin American myths and tradition were weaved into this magical world in Labyrinth Lost.

Zoraida: Thank you. Let me start by saying that I 100% believe in We Need Diverse Books and #ownvoices books. They are quality books that need more spotlight. I’m not here for people who argue that diverse = not of good quality. I’m also glad that readers feel that what they read in Labyrinth Lost feels authentic. But please don’t think that you’re learning about Ecuadorian myths because that’s not what I’ve created. I’m still writing fantasy, I’m just representing People of Color as well. Let’s unpack this.

“What’s real in Labyrinth Lost?” I’ve been answering a form of this question a lot lately. I think because my background is from South America, there’s an assumption that the stories in Labyrinth Lost are real/taken from stories I heard as a child. Don’t get me wrong; I’m super flattered that my world feels real. I thank everyone who is reading this book. It is exactly what I aim for as a fantasy author, and I thank my readers for that.

Let’s unpack Latin America. Latin America has many superstitions, despite the deep roots of Catholicism. There is no all-encompassing Latin American mythology. It’s not real. It doesn’t exist. My brief childhood in Ecuador doesn’t come with all the superstitions of all the other countries in South America. The UN recognizes 33 Latin American countries. That includes U.S. territories, former Spanish colonies, Portuguese and French speaking countries. What we think of Latin America is a U.S. media portrayal of white Mexicans and sexy Colombians and Italian-looking Puerto Ricans. We think of the parts that Spain conquered and colonized. At the end of the day, Latin America is extremely complicated because we are all so different and individual, but also united under region and language.

So what’s real and what isn’t?

We tend to paint Latinos as these magical and superstitious beings, and some of us are. The Native American community knows all too well what that’s like to a much worse extent. In hopes of stepping outside myths associated with Latinos, I decided to make up my own superstitions and my own stories and gods. It was so hard to take out the Llorona myth that everyone knows because even we have that story in Ecuador.

The gods of Labyrinth Lost are all made up. The other realms of Los Lagos is entirely made up. The Meadow is more inspired by Alice in Wonderland than any other culture. One of my favorite parts of writing this book was writing the cantos (spells) and epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Writing creation myths is something I love, and the story of La Mama and El Papa (the major gods) was a lot of fun.

There is one monster in particular that is inspired by my childhood in Ecuador. When you’re a kid, everyone scares you with monsters. Duendes are evil elves that can steal you away. The Duendes in Labyrinth Lost are a little different, and hopefully I’ll get to bring them back in another book. But the one that’s stuck with me for a long time is the Cuco. In Mexico, there’s the Cucuy, which is a demon. For us (Ecuadorians), we scare kids with the “Cuco.” It’s a demon that eats children who behave badly. I always pictured a black beast with sharp teeth and claws. So, naturally, I turned it into the Maloscuros in Labyrinth Lost.


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4/5
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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...

Labyrinth Lost was a book I was instantly attracted to as soon as I came across the synopsis. Witches and magic are total buzz words for me, but Labyrinth Lost has that something different going for it; here we have bruja/brujo's

Alex is a great character. Sure we're working with the chosen one trope, but you know, for the most part, I'm fine with that trope as long as the "chosen one" is a likable character. And that Alex is. She's been secretly containing her magic because she wants nothing to do with it. Her family believes her magic will show itself soon, so Alex continues to let them think that. Until that moment the magic explodes out of her and Alex is on the path to becoming a very powerful witch. Alex wants nothing to do with that and thinks she can make her magic disappear; well, of course, that's not how that works and she makes her family vanish instead. Forcing Alex to make a deal with Nova, a boy she barely knows, to help her travel to Los Lagos to get her family back.

I had no issues with Alex. In fact, I totally understood her. Yea, she's a bit selfish, but what teenager isn't? Yea she believes in what some stranger boy tells her about getting rid of her magic. And yea, she decides to take it upon herself to cast a spell that's powerful and honestly has no business casting; yet again, how many teenagers try to do everything themselves? Most. So here she is a normal 16-year old who's scared out of her mind to become this very powerful bruja because her past makes her want nothing to do with the world she's grown up in. There's something about Alex, she's the quiet bookworm type, which really works for her when she's trekking through Los Lagos trying to find her family. She listens to her heart. She's kind and brave and turns into a total kick ass women when the time arrives. I cannot wait to see how Alex grows throughout the rest of the series.

Family is one of the biggest parts of Labyrinth Lost. They are the most important thing in Alex's life. This isn't another book where the main character is off to save their love interest and there's very little family present. Alex feels like the outsider in her family, but she's learning to just find her place. And it's a great story line.

As for Alex's companion, Nova. He's that mysterious guy with an angry past. And I spent the whole book trying to get my finger on what his real motives were for helping a girl he's just meet. Nova is a guy you should keep your eye on. Just sayin'.
Then there's Rishi; Alex's best friend/only friend at school. Rishi is smart and an utterly compelling girl. Like Alex, I was drawn into her larger than life personality. But also her loyalty to Alex. Rishi is in the dark with regards to Alex's magic. But she follows Alex into Los Lagos because of her need to be with her, help her. Not only is their friendship strong, the love there, but just maybe something else starts to bloom. Let's just say real feelings are coming to light.

The fantastical world, Cordova has created in Labyrinth Lost is wonderfully dark. Alex's family and then the world of Los Lagos is heavily influenced by different Latin American's myths, legends, and culture. Everything is from Cordova's mind, I loved how you can see the threads that are woven into the story from what is probably her childhood and the stories she grew up on. Los Lagos is that in between land. Think of it as a Wonderland of sorts. There're creatures and spirits and a dark power is trying to control it. It's not a place I'd like to find myself but it makes for an adventure that is great to read.

Labyrinth Lost is a fresh start to a series saturated in diversity of every kind. It's a perfect start to a trilogy, that I see getting better and better with each book. 

I want to give a huge thank you to Raincoast for having me participate in this blog tour. And also to Zoraida for getting involved with the Q&A.
Labyrinth Lost is out now, I highly suggest everyone go buy it or borrow it from the library.

Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. Definitely intrigued! This sounds good and I love a main character who can seriously get the job done. I will definitely have to check this one out! Great review and Q&A!