Review: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

It really feels like I’m reading some of my favorite books of the year here at the end of the year… I adored this book, so much more than I expected to!

What it’s about

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

My thoughts

Prior to this book, I had only read one other by Zoraida Córdova (Labyrinth Lost). While I enjoyed that book, it was very much a YA novel and I haven’t felt compelled to read the rest of that series. Orquídea Divina is most definitely not YA, and I find myself wishing there was a planned sequel. Córdova is a skilled writer, but I felt this book was on a new level: gorgeous, flowing prose that just made me want more and more of the stories and characters. I do love multiple timelines, and this book gives us the historical story of Orquídea herself, plus modern-day stories focused on three of her descends. There truly is a lot going on with this book, but Córdova manages it all beautifully.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is equally character- and plot-driven. I loved the characters of Rey, the mysterious Orquídea, and especially Marimar. Distinct, unique characters that frustrate and delight in turn, and you just can’t help but root for them. The mystery of Orquídea’s past and why she ended up the way she did is slowly unfurled across the pages while we watch Marimar and Rey find their own way and destinies. There is magic and whimsy, darkness and secrets, a proper old traveling circus of wonders, a zombie rooster, an enchanted homestead, an international flair, and much more.

As is often the case when I’m completely enthralled with a story, I ended up doing a digital ARC/purchased audiobook combo to finish this book. (When I don’t want to stop reading to do silly stuff like exercising, cleaning, and cooking, this is my solution.) I can report that that audiobook of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is really, really great: truly beautiful, at times bulingual narration by Frankie Corzo and flawless production.

I definitely recommend this book to fans of Isabel Allende, Alice Hoffman, and magical fantasy in general. Come for the magic, and stay to enjoy the lovely prose, intoxicating characters, and adventurous story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for my digital ARC in exchange for this honest review. Thank you to the author for a magical reading experience.


Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

It seems like every time I read a new-to-me novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia it becomes my new favorite book of hers. Certain Dark Things is my current favorite SM-G, and I’m really glad it got a new edition print this year.

What it’s about

From the Goodreads description:

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

My thoughts

This is most definitely a fresh take on vampire novels, with excellent world building (and vampire lore building), a fascinating mix of different types of vampires, from terrifying to beautiful to nasty-gross to sexy, all with a gritty noir feel. One of my favorite things about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work is the way she blends genre lines so seamlessly, and Certain Dark Things is a shining example of that skill. Not clearly romance, horror, or fantasy, but an entertaining mix of all of those. I also love how cleverly she incorporates Aztec legends in to the vampire lore.

There are five different POV characters in this book, and the main characters are so varied as to really keep things interesting. I loved complicated Atl and her relationship with simple, good Domingo. While Rodrigo and Nick are far from likable, the chapters from their perspectives add a lot of tension to the story, and Ana’s POV brings the whole thing forward so well. The plot moves along quickly and there’s never a dull moment.

The only thing I wasn’t wild about with Certain Dark Things was the ending… and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would actually love to see a sequel.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.