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  • An Enchanting Read
  • Jessica Rutherford (bio)
Bruja Born
Zoraida Córdova
352 Pages; Print, $17.99

Bruja Born is Zoraida Córdova's second novel in her new hit series Brooklyn Brujas, a follow-up to Labyrinth Lost (2016). Córdova, award-winning author and New Yorker with Ecuadorian roots, writes fantasy fiction with a Latinx twist in the Brooklyn Brujas series, featuring a fully Latinx cast of primary characters with a diverse representation of sexual orientation.

In Bruja Born, the reader will find the same motley crew of vampires, weres, faeries, and other supernatural creatures that appear in the Vicious Deep series as they follow the lives of the Mortiz sisters—Alex, Lula, and Rose—three young brujas (the Spanish word for witch) that come into their powers in modern-day Brooklyn. Bruja Born focuses on Lula's experience as a new bruja recovering from an intense encounter with Los Lagos, an otherworldly realm in which the Mortiz family found themselves trapped when Alex, the encantrix sister, tried to deny her magic in book one of the series. Lula's world is turned upside down even further when she tries to use love magic to keep her high school sweetheart from leaving her. As is often true of matters of the heart, Lula discovers that holding on to something past its time can do more damage than good when her love canto, the word for enchantment or spell in Spanish, takes on a life of its own.

Lula is the healer of the family, and when she is the sole survivor of a bus crash that kills her fellow classmates, including her boyfriend Maks, she convinces her sisters to help her bring him back to life with magic. As they are well aware, this type of magic goes against the universal laws that govern Lady de la Muerte (Lady of Death), one of the many Deos (gods) in the Brooklyn Brujas storyworld. The canto that the sisters need to bring Maks back to life can only be found in El Libro Maldecido (The Accursed Book), requiring a special visit to one of the few brujas in the area that work in death magic. The canto does more than originally intended, though, and ends up reviving the whole bus of dead students, triggering an onslaught of casimuertos (the half-dead) that wreak havoc across Brooklyn and the greater metro area. The powerful canto cast by the sisters not only births an onslaught of casimuertos but also traps La Muerte in between two worlds, that of the living and that of the dead. As they work to rectify their magic gone awry, containing the casimuertos and releasing La Muerte from her purgatory, the Mortiz sisters not only learn the value of family, community, and love—in all its different forms—but also discover their own personal power and agency as Latinx brujas in Brooklyn.

Each chapter of Bruja Born begins with a canto, short citation, or sacred song from the brujería tradition that gives the reader a clue as to the didactic lesson at play, either in Spanish, English, or both. What is more, the citations reveal the complex spiritual structure that encompasses the Brooklyn-Brujas storyworld, including a pantheon of Deos—largely pulled from a Latin-American framework (a mix of indigenous, African, and European traditions)—as well as the societal supports that go along with it: spiritual communities and practices, social organizations, and a body of texts specific to the brujería tradition, such as the Book of Deos, Tales of the Deos, and The Accursed Book, to name a few. While the brujería tradition is celebrated and practiced in the Mortiz household, they cannot practice out in the open for fear of prejudice and/

or persecution. In this regard, an important analogy can be drawn from the novel as it relates to the social importance of intersectional allyship among marginalized and/or disenfranchised populations, which we see in the form of the Thorne Hill Alliance (THA), a social organization that serves to maintain strategic alliances between brujas/brujos, vampires, weres, fairies, and other supernatural creatures to...


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