Review | Nocturna

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By: Maya Motayne

Overall Rating: ★★★

Finn Voy is a face shifter who gets caught by a powerful mobster and forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

Prince Alfehr is dealing with the death of his brother and the realization that he is now first in line for the Castallan throne. He’s now obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power and now they have to capture it or risk the destruction of the entire world. As you can imagine, things don’t go well and we get some INTENSE fight scenes.

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TL;DR

I really wanted to enjoy Nocturna more than I did. While it isn’t a terrible book, I felt it lacking in key places. I absolutely LOVED the Latin atmosphere – it was my favorite part of the entire novel – but the characters and world building could have done with some work. Overall, if you’re looking for a dense fantasy with Latinx vibes and have a short TBR, give this a go, but don’t get your hopes up for this to be your next obsession.

The Good

ALL THE LATIN GOODNESS

This was my first read this year for Hispanic Heritage Month and I was NOT disappointed. All the main characters are brown and proud with last names that speak of Hispanic descent. Everyone speaks Spanglish, moms and old ladies threaten the youth with chanclas, and celebrations aren’t complete without spiced hot chocolate, sangria and Bachata!

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The Intensity

It takes about 150 pages (out of the 470 total) for things to pick up, but when it does things get DARK. Motayne doesn’t pull her punches, and some of the battle scenes where villain and protagonist face off get very gruesome and heavy. We’re dealing with family trauma, emotional & physical abuse, slides into alcoholism, and you may or may not see an attempt at a human deboning (yes, like what you do with fish). I always appreciate the darker side to fantasy novels and this definitely doesn’t disappoint.

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The Bad

The Magic System

I found the magic system and set up to be VERY confusing…and I read a lot of fantasy books that involve unique magic systems. There was just a lot going on and, in my opinion, could have been stripped down or explained over the course of the entire series (which I hope there’s a book 2 but we’ll get to that soon). Castallans are all born with some type of “main” magic – earth, water, fire, etc. – which is known as elemental magic. Then, on top of that, there’s also a different type of magic that can be done with words. THEN, on top of that, you can also do magic with writing. THEN, to make things more confusing, some special people have “propio”, or a unique inner magic that gives them strange abilities. I seriously had to take notes on this while reading and I found myself over the entire set up super early on.

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The Characters

Finn and Alfie are both broken, dark and complex. I usually love when characters have layers that need to be pulled back, but for some reason I just couldn’t connected with them.  I still feel the same way about these two now as I did on page one – indifferent. The character growth in this book is amazing, but the personalities didn’t mesh well with me.

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THAT WAS THE ENDING? 

I went into this book thinking I was going to have a crazy, intense cliffhanger because Nocturna is book one in a series, but I was sadly disappointed. There are multiple threats that are mentioned throughout the book – the main antagonist (dark magic mentioned in the recap), the mob boss Finn has to deal with (also mentioned), then of course the plot twist shocker about Alfie’s brother’s murder. At 3/4 complete, nothing had been resolved, issues were forgotten about, and I thought for sure the ending was going to be heartbreaking. Instead, I got a lukewarm goodbye scene and an “all is seemingly well”. I honestly felt like I was reading a standalone, which I guess works well for those who don’t want to complete the series.

The Ugly Truth

Would I recommend Nocturna to my friends? Possibly…but I’d be hesitant. It has an awesome premise and the potential to be great, but I really want to see how book two plays out. It might make me feel differently about my read of book one. So, at this moment in time, WE’LL SEE.

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Will you be adding it to your reading list soon?

September TBR | Hispanic Heritage Month

Top 5

How is it already September?! If you didn’t notice, I took a lot of summer off to focus on me and enjoy the world outside of blogging. My summer reading slump hit me like a ton of bricks, but now I’m back in action and my first order of business is hitting my TBR pile hard. I’m hoping to get through some solid reading with stories that all have to do with my Latinx heritage. Why, might you ask? Well…

I wish I was more connected with my Mexican culture in so many ways, but growing up without stories with little brown girls didn’t make it any easier. Why aren’t we ever the heroines in the stories? Why don’t we ever get the guy/girl? I decided to do some research and realized maybe I was just looking in the wrong places for books that highlight my culture.

Queue: This month’s potential reading list to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicks off on the 15th! My goal is to read at least 4 books on this list, if not more. These were all chosen based on genre, author, and main character backgrounds and all have Latinx roots in some way. I also had to do some major digging more these, so please feel free to add them to your TBRs if you’re looking for more Latinx in your life!

*Disclaimer: I am by no means in expert in Latinx reading, but I’m hoping to find some great reads along my journey and if you have any recommendations, I would love to know!

The Books

1. Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic #1)  by Maya Motayne

“Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.” MAGIC FANTASY LATIX WORLD AND I AM IN

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2. The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner #1) by J.C Cervantes

“Feisty heroes, tricky gods, murderous demons, and spirited giants are just some of the pleasures that await in this fresh and funny take on Maya mythology, as rich and delicious as a mug of authentic hot chocolate.”

This has literally been sitting on my shelf for ages and I’m ready for some Mayan gods and abuelita’s hot chocolate. Please and thank you.

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3. Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

“Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.”

I see Bruja Born EVERY.WHERE. and didn’t even realize it was part of a series, so hello to book 1. I’m obsessed with all things brujeria so let’s do this.

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4.  The Living (The Living #1) by Matt de la Pena

“The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.”

I don’t know where this one is going to take me, but post-apocalyptic stories are my kind of stories.

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5. Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper #1) by Daniel José Older

“With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.”

As you can see, I have a type…fantasy/urban fantasy/magic.

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6. The Gateway Through Which They Came by Heather Marie

“To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control.”

I’ve heard this one is a bit on the younger side of YA, but I’m gonna give it a try.

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7. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

“For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.”

Um, Latinx Romeo and Juliet? Yes, please.

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8. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

“But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . . .”

This is meant to be a younger-skewing YA series, but I’m into Percy Jackson so why not give this a try.

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9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

“The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”

Another one that I’m not quite sure I’ll love, but I hear great things and I’m expanding my palette TYVM.

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10. Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

Everyone has been raving about this and while the genre it isn’t normally my cup of tea, I’m going all in. I might be surprised.

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Talk To Me

What did you think of my picks? Any other Latinx reads you would recommend? Any from my list that you want to add to your TBR?