Fantasy (Teen)

YA Feminist Fantasy Worth Reading – Lobizona and Year of the Witching

When I first began reading YA fantasy, I hadn’t even thought about the need for feminism in our stories. In fact, all I cared about was plot, characters, and writing style. But with time, I’ve realized the importance of using stories as a platform to propel positive social reform. Lobizona and Year of the Witching are both good examples of this!

Lobizona by Romina Garber [ARC]

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1) book cover

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)

by Romina Garber

Published July 4, 2020 by Wednesday Book
Series: Wolves of No World
ISBN: 1250239125

Data from Goodreads

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Rep: Latinx, LGBTQIA+, immigrant

TW: deportation

Lobizona will be counted towards the Trope-ical Readathon, hosted by Jenny @ Jenny’s Review Blog and ARC August, hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat.

 

The Pros: What worked for me

  • This novel was more urban fantasy, with its mix of magical realism and Argentinian folklore. The author did a great job blending the two, and I learned so much about a culture I knew nothing about!
  • This novel normalized the menstrual cycle. I’ve honestly never seen this before and I was SO HAPPY that the author mentioned it both casually and as an important story element. As a society, we need to normalize this hormonal process, not make it something taboo.
  • The writing style was great in that it had good flow, but also included many Spanish phrases. It made me feel more in tune with the cultural setting, and it was also fun to try and figure out what was being sad (yay for context clues)!
  • There is a huge emphasis on what it means to be an illegal immigrant and the struggles of gaining citizenship. The fear of being deported, the desperation for a better life… my heart went out to Manu and her family. I may not have been an undocumented immigrant, but I can relate to that struggle to belong. I think the author brought attention to a very important issue and humanized it so readers can empathize with this situation.
  • The author depicts the characters debating the importance of a non-binary system, and I loved this. It is so important as we become more aware of gender fluidity and the author handles this wonderfully.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • I’m not a fan of insta-love, and that is definitely present in this novel. I wish the romance had been more nuanced.
  • Certain plot points were just too convenient for my liking. It required a suspension of disbelief from the reader.
  • The ending was a bit of a cliche and expected; I’m still curious about where the rest of the story will go but I found it predictable.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fast pace and important themes of this novel. The plot and worldbuilding were unique and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching book cover

The Year of the Witching

by Alexis Henderson

Published July 21st 2020by Ace
ISBN: 0593099605

Data from Goodreads

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Rep: Black, feminism

TW: rape, molestation, torture

I have been waiting for this book for SO LONG and I was ecstatic when I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of it. While it was marketed as a YA, it really is more of an adult fantasy with YA crossover (as the author has said).

The Year of the Witching will be counted towards  Bookopolathon, a monthlong readathon hosted by Becca’s Bookopoly, and Enthuse-A-Thon, hosted by Charlotte@Charkar_ and Abbie@AbsMee

The Pros: What worked for me

  • I really liked the setting and atmosphere of the story. It was haunting, it was gothic, and it was perfect for the witch hunt I knew was going to happen.
  • I really liked the characters; they were well-developed and the author did a great job showing their reasoning behind their actions.
  • The plot was riveting and I could not take my eyes off of the story! I was actually scared of what was going to happen next, and I enjoyed all of the thrills.
  • The feminist themes were developed well, without painting all men as evil. I also liked that there was an effort made to show how society as a collective needs to change and that punishing everyone is not a solution.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • The worldbuilding could have been developed better. I had a lot of logistical questions about Bethel and it was never really explained. The magic system was also quite vague, leaving me a tad bit disappointed.

While this wasn’t the 5-star read I had predicted, I still really enjoyed the story. I’m excited to see what else this author will come up with!

4 thoughts on “YA Feminist Fantasy Worth Reading – Lobizona and Year of the Witching

    1. I will say the author does try to get some chemistry going between the love interests, but it isn’t my favourite thing in the world. Hopefully you love this book as much as I did – if not more!

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