It’s Not Magical Realism: Fantasy Books by Latinx Authors

Hi everyone! Today I have another post to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month and it’s a very exciting post because fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I have some recommendations if you want to read fantasy books by Latinx authors.

If you are wondering why this post includes “It’s not Magical Realism” in the title, it’s because oftentimes fantasy books by Latinx authors are label as magical realism, especially if they are paranormal or urban fantasy and it’s a big source of annoyance for Latinx authors and readers. Not everything that Latinx authors write and that includes magical elements in it should be pigeonholed as magical realism. Latinx and magical realism are not synonyms. This post is not about this discussion tho, so if you want to learn more a quick google search will help you out with that!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows a young woman and the Mayan god of death as they embarque on a quest, where they face all kinds of mythological creatures ande deities, in order to save their lives.

    • The writing makes it feel like reading a myth or fairytale, it was so engaging.

    • The Mayan mythology was captivating and lush, and since it’s a mythology that it’s not often used in fantasy books, this book was full of gods and mythical creatures that felt very new and unique.

    • It’s set in 1920’s Mexico and the mix of the mythological elements and the ‘modernity’ of the Jazz Age worked well and gave this story an even more unique touch.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows a thief with powerful magical abilities and a prince running from his past, who inadvertently free an evil force and then have to try to capture it again before it destroys everything.

  • The most magical thing about this book is the way it embraces Latinx culture and the way it uses Spanish as the language of magic in this world.

  • It addresses colonialism and slavery through the history of this fantasy world in a very organically and subtle way.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This story follows a young women, who has trained all her life to be a primera, a wife who runs her husband’s household. But when a rebel group treatens to expose her biggest secret, she is forced to start working for them. All this while having to live with the enemy, her husband’s other wife, the Segunda, in charge of giving him children.

  • This books has two beautifully complex main characters, a forbidden sapphic love story, fascinating mythology, an infuriating world and a flawed and complicated rebelious group.

    • The strengh of this book lays in the way it addresses immigration, privilege, poverty and opression, because it manages to evoke so many emotions and be incredibly thought-provoking, it’s brilliantly done.

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Goodreads | Amazon

  • This book follows Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, who is determined to fight back against the high council to do it she must go on a heist and her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt.

  • This book has five main characters, who are queer, poc or struggling with mental illness and trauma. They all have distintive voices and personalies and the author seamlessly integrates the different aspects of the characters identities to the story.

  • This book is full of twists and turns and a fast pace that keeps the book entertaining and engaging.

Labyrinth Lost + Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

Goodreads | Amazon

  • Each book in this series follows one of the Mortiz sisters, who are brujas and who always end up getting into trouble when their spells backfire.

  • This series includes a variaty of magical beings like brujas, werewolves, vampires, fairies, zombies and so much more. All of them as well as a lot of the mythology in this book are steeped in Latin American culture and mythology. And that’s one of the main things that’s wonderful about this book: how unapologetically Latinx it is.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

  • This book tells the story of Xochital, a girl who has been the Cuentista of her community, she takes the stories involving secrets, lies and deceit that produce feelings like guilt and she gives them back to the land so people can be forgiven by their god. If this process doesn’t take place, the stories manifest themselves as Pesadillas – monsters out of nightmares.

    • Each of Us a Desert is a quiet fantasy book about the role of stories in our lives and in our communities and the link between the stories we are told and the things we believe in and have faith in. This is a character-driven book with a loose plot but with strong thematic elements.

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

  • This book follows Renata, who thanks to her unique magical power was kidnapped and forced to work for the King only to escape and join the rebels. But when the commander of her unit is taken captive, Renata has to return to the palace under cover and complete his top secret mission.

    • One of the stronger aspects of this story is that it feels like like something bad is about to happen at any moment because Renata is living in the midst of enemies and there are so many secrets and interests at play.

      • Incendiary has an intricate magic system, vivid characters, twist and turns that will keep you at the edge of your sit and an ending that will leave you wanting more

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your tbr? What Fantasy book by Latinx authors have you enjoyed?
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Thoughts & Aesthetics: Nocturna by Maya Montayne

Nocturna.jpg

Title: Nocturna

Author: Maya Motayne

Published by: Balzer +Bray

Publishing date: May 7th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 480

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks. As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Goodreads | Amazon

Nocturna is an entertaining book that, while not having the most original plot and characters, feels unique in some ways thanks to the incorporation of Latinx culture and Spanish language in its world and magic system.

The main characters of Nocturna, Alfie and Finn, are both interesting in their own ways and that’s due to how they are impacted by their pasts in different but very powerful ways and how that affects the plot of the story. Alfie is a cinamon roll type of character that, at the same time, it’s a mess and makes a lot of mistakes, and throught his character, Montayne explores the ways in which grief can cause a person to be a mess, make the wrong choices and screw everything up.

On the other hand, Finn’s character is compelling because she uses a facade of being tough and heartless as a way to hold on to some control after having experienced a situation in which she was manipulated and controlled by someone else. Her development, her vulnerability and her contradictions throughout the book are not only escencial to the plot, they also give an emotional backbone to the story.

The dymanic between these characters is really entertaining and the snarky comments and the banter are fun to read, but there are also these tentative moments when they are vulnerable and honest with each other and they are so tender and beautiful. At the end, the development of their relationship is captivating and touching.

In terms of the villain, it’s interesting that this book has two villains in one and seeing the struggle for power and for control within the villain is interesting because the struggles between these two villain are not caused by one trying to stop the other from doing evil things, it’s about setting priorities for what evil things to do first and that adds a compelling element to the story.

The most magical thing about this book is the way it embraces Latinx culture and the way it uses Spanish as the language of magic in this world. Maybe it’s because there’s not that many YA fantasy books that do this, but the fact that those things are incorporated it felt special and meaningful. Another aspect of the book that it’s interesting is the way it addresses colonialism and slavery through the history of its world, and how it’s done in a very organically and subtle way.

Lastly, the main issue of this book is the pacing because it’s really uneven, so there are long bits in the book where characters are talking or thinking or planning and then some action would take place but inmediately after there would be another long strech where not a lot would happen. That constant start and stop of the action didn’t allow the book to flow as well as it could have.

Overall, while not being extremely original and having some issues with pacing, Nocturna does a great job of seamlessly incorporating Latinx culture and spanish to the story in a beautiful and meaningful way, and it does a good job too of including discussions about colonialims and slavery in a interesting, toughtful and organic way.

Have you read this book? Do you have recommendations of fantasy books inspired by different cultures? 

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August 2019 Wrap Up

Reading Wrap Up

Hi everyone! August was a really good month especially since we announced the second edition of the Latinx Book Bingo, which will take place form September 15 to October 15. Reading wise, I feel like I got back on track after not reading much in July. So I’m excited to share some of my thoughts for the 13 books I read this month:

Diverse Romance

Fit by Rebekah Weatherspoon (3,7 stars): This was a fast, steamy and sweet read with a interesting female protagonist. Black main character and Black author (full review).

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa (3,7 stars): I loved the female protagonist, I had some issues with the guy at the beginning but at the end he turned out to be sweet and they had lots of chemestry. Afro-Latinx main character and Afro-Latinx author.

Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa (3,7 stars): I really liked both main characters in this one and their chemestry was great. Also, I really like the way this incorporated discussion about diversity and representation in Hollywood. Black hero and Afro-Latinx author.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (3,7 stars): I enjoyed this book and I think it touches important subjets, but I couldn’t really get fully into the story at any point. Black heroine and Samoan hero.

Only for a Night by Naima Simone (3,7 stars): This is a short novella and it’s really, really steamy! Even if it’s mainly sex scenes, there’s enough of the character’s backstory to make evident the connection and love between them. Black author.

Romance

Surprise, Baby by Lex Martin & Leslie McAdam (3,6 stars): This book was both steamy and sweet, my only issue is that it relied too much in miscomunication (full review)

The Penalty Box by Odette Stone (3,5 stars): This was really steamy and really angsty, my main issue with it was that guy got a bit too posessive for my taste (full review)

Temporary Groom by J.S. Scott (2,8 stars): The writing in this was terrible and I only finished it because it was so short.

The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely (3,8 stars): This book was fun, steamy and angsty and I would totally recommend it!

Others

Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim (3 stars): This poetry collections deals mainly with mental illness and it does it well, but I would say the only outstanding poem is “Explaining Depression to my Mother”, the one that went viral, everything else is just ok. 

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (4,5 stars): This was amazing, there was an underlining tension thorughout this book that made it really hard to put down because I was always waiting for something bad to happen. I loved how complex the relationships in this were and the ending was heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the next book.

Nocturna by Maya Montayne (4 stars): I really enjoyed this book, I liked the main characters, I loved the way Spanish was incorporated and the way Latinx culture was reflected in the story. Also, the way this book addresses colonialism and its effects in the colonized countries is very interesting. My only issue is that I think the pacing could have been better.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro (3,8 stars): This was a fast and entertaining read, but the mystery left something to be desired and I was so confused the entire time and I was left confused after I finished. Still, I loved Holmes and Watson and their complicated, angsty relationship. I read this as part of a buddy read with Rebecca @ Bookishly Rebecca and Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts

How was your reading in August? Any new favorite books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? 
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