Author: Zoraida Córdova
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Blurb: The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—not 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 into a ceiba tree, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings and powers. 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, her descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.
It’s not often I pick up this sort of contemporary fantasy these days, but I received this one as part of a subscription box several months ago and just now got around to reading it. My feelings about this one are really mixed, so let’s start with the good.
The writing style is one of this book’s major strengths. The prose is smooth, easy to read, and consistently engaging. There’s very little filler in the narration, and yet the descriptions always seem to have just the right amount of detail to allow me to picture exactly what’s happening in the story. I never had any issues understanding what was happening, even though the story jumped between multiple time periods and several different major characters.
The other notable strength is the book’s ability to toe the line between full-on fantasy and contemporary family drama. There are just enough fantasy elements to keep me, a big fantasy reader, interested throughout, though the main theme of the story is not so much the fantasy but rather the effects of Orquídea’s decisions and how they impact the rest of her family across the generations.
That said, the book’s weaknesses kind of render that balance moot.
One of my biggest problems with the story is the pacing—the build toward the action-packed climax is painfully slow, especially in the beginning. While I understand that the author wanted to fully explain the complicated family dynamics before having the more fantasy-esque second half play out, I think the whole book suffered substantially as a result of the first half’s glacially slow plot development.
On a similar note, I think the book packs too much into the last third of the story. After spending more than two hundred pages just building up family conflicts and sprinkling in bits of fantasy here and there, all the action happens really fast, in a handful of pages…and the book is over. I think the story would’ve benefited from inserting more action earlier rather than packing it all in there at the last minute.
So, to give this book a fair shake, I will admit that it’s not the usual kind of fantasy that I would read. But even so, I think the book has fairly noticeable structural issues that could’ve been resolved without changing the core story and themes.