Alex does not want her magic. As far as her family knows, she’s a late bloomer and yet to come into her power. They can’t wait to celebrate her Deathday.

Over the years, modern brujas like to have Deathdays line up with birthdays to have even bigger celebrations. Nothing says “happy birthday” like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

The format did remind me a little of the film Labyrinth, and many other quest type stories. Alex accidentally wishes her family away in an act of selfishness and then has to go into another dimension to rescue them, before time runs out. Along the way she meets an assortment of magical creatures and dangerous geographical features.

Alex’s family is Puerto Rican by way of plenty of other countries, but the mythology is crafted from inspirations from many sources. Bruja is the Spanish word for witch and the idea of the Deathday was inspired by Día de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead. It does have a little of the Greek about it too, there’s a labyrinth after all and there’s a scene that’s very similar to the crossing of the River Styx.

Alex is a bit of a special snowflake and I also think the world-building was lacking a baseline in what regular bruja power was like. It’s a pretty short book and she has several close encounters with different groups in Los Lagos, not giving much time for the book to feel fully fleshed out. Everything seems resolved just a little too easily, partly in thanks to those snowflake powers.

“Why’s it always the heart or the eye of something?” Rishi asks. “You notice that? There are so many body parts that don’t get enough love, like earlobes and belly buttons.”

When the best friend, Rishi, is introduced they didn’t come across as that close. When it starts talking about the strength of her love, it was a bit of a surprise. Generally the secondary characters needed a bit more work to really flesh them out.

It was a quick and entertaining read, so I wouldn’t dismiss reading the second book in the series when it’s out next year.

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Book Source: Purchased