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 markings 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…
Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.
It didn’t take me long to be convinced to read Labyrinth Lost. Whether it was the stunning cover, or that the main character was bisexual (which we don’t see enough of in YA), or the promise of a thrilling adventure, or maybe all these three things combined, I knew this was a book I couldn’t go past. Even the first line of the summary above just sends a shiver down my spine and urges me to pick it up. But with great expectations also comes great risk of the book not meeting them, and while I definitely enjoyed Labyrinth Lost, it just fell short of that completely mind-blowing experience. If you haven’t heard much about Labyrinth Lost, that’s probably a good thing. Just go into it expecting a fun adventure and that’s exactly what you’ll get. It wasn’t brilliant or profound, but sometimes I don’t need that. It was just an enjoyable read, and that was enough.
Labyrinth Lost begins being a paranormal story, with ghosts and powers and the raising of the dead. It definitely felt like it could have been a spin-off from The Raven Boys at the start, but it quickly spiralled into something that resembled more of the fantasy genre, when our protagonist fell down a rabbit hole and found herself in another world and having to fight her way through obstacles to save her parents. As fantasy isn’t my go-to genre and I often find fantasy worlds hard to picture or complicated to understand, I think I would have enjoyed this story more if it were just set in Brooklyn. As enchanting as the world of Los Largos was, the obstacles in it and the repetitive nature of these trials made me become bored and uninterested in the Alice in Wonderland kind of place we were in.
As much as I wanted to love the characters, their existence was pretty meh for me. Alex wasn’t a spectacular heroine or anything, and I didn’t really feel as though her life was in danger at any point throughout the narrative. In that way, I felt that the obstacles were meant to be scary and dangerous, but they didn’t convey themselves that way completely, leaving me feeling uninvested in the narrative and, in turn, the characters’ lives. My favourite character by far was Nova, which isn’t unexpected considering my inability to not fall in love with the stereotypical ‘dangerous’ boy with secrets and a dark past. Honestly, I think I need a section of my bookshelf devoted to this trope. But then again, every second book on my shelf has a guy with dark hair and piercing eyes in it, so who needs a section when they make up the majority of your collection?
While the f/f romance was one of the aspects I was most looking forward to reading, given the lack of bisexual representation in YA fiction, I found their romance to be somewhat forced and seemingly irrelevant. In parts, I questioned why Rishi was even a part of the story, and the love triangle almost felt nonexistent at times, given the chemistry between Alex and Nova, and the lack thereof between Alex and Rishi. It was disappointing, and it felt like Rishi’s only purpose in the narrative was to be there to provide another love interest. In the beginning, I had high hopes for her relationship with Alex, but they quickly fizzled away when Alex started showing more interest in Alex and I could feel how real their romance was. In that way, the love triangle trope that I detest could definitely have been improved upon to make it a book that doesn’t conform to my bad experiences with this cliche.
Ultimately, Labyrinth Lost starts as an intriguing and addictive book that quickly slows its pace, but you should still consider it if you enjoy reading fantasy novels with a diverse range of characters and Alice in Wonderland vibes. While the characters aren’t the highlight of the novel and there are some scenes that feel a bit repetitive, it’s a relatively enjoyable novel that you’ll be able to lose yourself in for a couple of hours and follow the adventures Alex takes. But beware: Chosen One trope ahead. I’m not in a rush to read the second book in the series, but this one was fun while it lasted.
Have you read Labyrinth Lost? Do you love or hate the Love Triangle trope? Have you read many books with bisexual main characters? What are some of your favourite ‘Wonderland’ books? I’d love to know!
Thanks to New South Books Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!