Labyrinth Lost (2016) is the first in Zoraida Córdova’s BROOKLYN BRUJAS series.
Alejandra “Alex” Mortiz is the middle daughter of a Puerto Rican bruja (witch) family in Brooklyn. Alex has been trying to suppress her power for years, because she believes it was the reason her father left the family.
Her sixteenth birthday is approaching, however, and with it her Deathday ceremony, a coming-of-age ritual during which she will receive a blessing from her ancestors.
Alex casts a spell during the Deathday ceremony that she believes will permanently suppress her abilities; the ritual goes wrong, and Alex’s entire family is swallowed into the magical realm of Los Lagos. (This seems like it’s going to have an obvious moral of “her family was her strength all along,” but while there’s truth in that, there’s something else going on too.)
While Alex found her large extended family somewhat overbearing when they were present, she is devastated when they are suddenly gone. Now Alex must travel to Los Lagos herself to bring them back, with the help of Nova, a young brujo whom she doesn’t trust, and Rishi, her best friend from school.
In order to save her family from the evil Devourer who is holding them prisoner in the heart of Los Lagos, Alex must come to terms with her power, her guilt, and her complicated feelings toward her family and her two companions, while facing a series of fantastical dangers.
Her journey is sometimes a bit episodic, as sometimes happens in “Wonderland”-type novels, but it’s exciting and filled with inventive imagery.
Labyrinth Lost is an enjoyable young adult novel with lots of imagination and a sense of family warmth. Two sequels follow, Bruja Born and the upcoming Wayward Witch, which follow the adventures of Alex’s sisters.