ARC was provided by NetGalley & Wednesday Books in exchanged for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (August 4th, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, talk of claustrophobia, xenophobia, sexism, discussion of menstruation, bullying, drug trafficking, drugging, talk of postpartum depression, trauma, misogyny, scene of attempted sexual assault, forced marriage, minor homophobia
“I come alive on the full moon.”
Dearest readers, I’m so thankful that I received an arc of this book. Not to mention that I was able to buddy read this book with so many of my fellow friends and partners at the Social Distance Book Fest. This book was captivating, unique, and I literally took a couple of weeks just to put my thoughts in order, to write this review and tell you all about it.
Our story follows Manuela Azul, an undocumented immigrant, who had her whole life turned upside down. Secrets are now coming to light, with her grandmother in the hospital and her mother taken into custody, Manu has no other choice other than to run. Only fate will lead her to a place that allows her to be herself, trace her heritage, and uncover her own story.
I loved Manu as a main character. She’s very strong, independent, and even though it’s not shown enough (in my opinion), she’s very family oriented. She also has this free spirit about her that I absolutely adored. The way Garber shows Manu’s vulnerability with being so uncertain, not wanted people to get in too deep with her situation, and the scene where she tries to push everyone away… I couldn’t stop appreciating that side of her and those vulnerabilities really resonated with me. I’m very much a person who wants to protect the ones she loves and cares about. So seeing Manu’s internal conflict about what she should do and how she do it, it really hit my soft spots.
“Because you can’t be invisible when your irises are yellow suns and your pupils are silver stars.”
The side characters were fantastic. I loved the way there were so many different personalities and how they all meshed so well with one another. What I really loved about these characters was how a small handful of them had Manu’s back despite everything. I loved how Cata and Saysa were willing to help Manu stay in the bruja part of the school, but what I loved the most is how Cata and Saysa both represented the angel on one shoulder with the devil on the other. Not to mention, we’re made aware of it later on in the story, but they’re both in a secret relationship with one another. And I think the thought of their different personalities coming together in a relationship really made me love them even more. Then we have Tiago and this poor boy couldn’t catch a break. Manu kept cutting him off left and right. It about killed me having to watch this boy get crushed so many time especially after a special scene that shows us the feelings growing between Tiago and Manu. Plus, his personality mixes so well with the way Manu’s personality is throughout this story. It was great chemistry and I truly felt that they were a perfect match for one another.
I also loved the way the magic was shown throughout this book. For my reading experience, the magic and the world felt very ancient, something alive and breathing. That feeling became even more solid after Manu is told Lunaris is the home of all magic and how Lunaris ends up having a real conversation with Manu. Ten years were added to my life by all of this. And I truly believe it was a clever idea to give Lunaris the ability to have a persona and the ability to communicate. And can I talk about this world building for a second?! I loved the world building in this book. I’m very picky about fantasy and world building. If a book can’t rope me in within the first five chapters, I will probably struggle with reading the book. However, for my experience, Romina Garber really gave me a vivid experience. It felt like I was walking right beside Manu as she moved from different areas in the book. I adore and crave books that can give me the vivid experience. And I think the author did a marvelous job delivering that expectation for me.
“You seek to discover your true home, yet you no longer have one… You have two.”
This book also addresses many important issues, as well. There’s a huge discussion of immigration and about ICE which overlaps a lot with what’s happening in today’s time. I don’t want to speak too much on that because that’s not my story to tell. However, if this is an own voices read for you and you have a review for this book, talking about your own experiences, please send me a link so I can help boost your voice and story. This book also addresses the topic of gender and gender identity. This is another important topic that sparks many arguments and conversations today. Even though there has been so much progress, there’s many places where gender restrictions is still a thing or an issue. In the the same area, we have the relationship with Cata and Saysa where they have to hide their love and relationship because it’s illegal for them to be open about it. Once again, even though the lgbtqiap+ community has made great strides and helped the world progress so much, there are many places in the world where it’s illegal to be open about same sex relationships. So I really appreciated Romina Garber adding these topics in because they’re still important issues that exist today and it’s not talked about enough.
“Fierro valued every life, wanted the best for everyone no matter if they were lobizones, brujas, or humans.”
I also want to mention that any reader should practice self-care while reading this book. There are a lot of content warnings, but I want to point out that there is a scene of attempted rape and as a rape survivor myself, that scene left me very uneasy and how it went unchallenged. I would have liked to see it challenged more or see some form of punishment happen. While I realize this is to show how society handles sexual assault and rape situations, I feel like it could have been challenged more. As I mentioned, just practice self-care and step back when you need to while reading this book.
I think the biggest issue I had with this book and the reason why I couldn’t give this a full five stars was the translated Spanish. And what I mean by that is Romina Garber’s personality is very un-apologetically Latinx, but when you read this book, it’s anything but. Now, I’ve seen many authors who are un-apologetically whatever heritage they are in books. Julie Kagawa is one of the of the best examples I can think of because she uses a lot of Japanese words and saying in her books, but she doesn’t explain it every time she uses them in her Shadow of the Fox series. She has a glossary in the back of her book for readers to constantly reference. Then you also have the matter of Google which is there for a reason. Now, I could understand if the author was explaining the sentences to add to the world building, however, I thought the world building was beautifully done. So the fact that every time there’s a Spanish sentence spoken and then immediately translated right after it’s said was very surprising for me. I truly would have loved to have seen the author run wild with the Spanish, without translating it, and leaving a glossary or dictionary piece in the back of her book. I would have loved to have seen the editing process for this book because I truly believe the translations didn’t need to be added. In my opinion, the world building speaks for itself and I would rather have the author be un-apologetic about their heritage and culture then see them feel obligated to translate it.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this Lobizona. I loved how there was such emphasis on family and how important it is, I fell madly in love with the world building and characters, and I think many readers are going to be putting this on their top books for 2020. I’m truly hoping more readers will pick this book up, preorder it, and get as excited as I am about this book. However, now that I’ve finished reading the first book, I need the second one immediately. Can I have it already?!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.