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.
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.