Review: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

A hardcover copy stands on a bookshelf next to a tea tumbler and a candle.

Alexis:

If you’re looking for a magical realism story that blends an Ecuadorian version of Encanto with certain aspects of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, then this is the book for you!

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a family saga. It has two separate timelines. One timeline follows Orquídea, the grandmother and matriarch of the Montoya family, who immigrated to the United States. The other follows her grandchildren, specifically Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly. 

The first half is very slow moving, taking its time to introduce the setting, a small town called Four Rivers, and its characters. Córdova’s writing is beautiful and lush, and strange at times. Her voice is perfect for magical realism.

At its core, despite being a family saga, this book is a mystery. What happened to Orquídea when she was younger that made her so mysterious? Where did her magic come from? 

This is not a book to be binged. It’s a book to take in slowly. You have to take time to take everything in and appreciate the weird magical moments, like magical flowers growing from bodies, ghosts, a river monster, and an old zombie rooster named Gabo that keeps coming back to life. 

My main critique is that while I like slow-moving stories, it took me a while to get invested in the characters, and there was also a character death towards the end that I think could’ve been handled better.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is both hilarious and tragic, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Marimar and Rey. If you like family sagas and magical realism, then I think you’ll like this one. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 /5 

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A library copy of Addie LaRue is being pulled out of a bookshelf, alongside a candle.

Alexis:

Look what I finally got from the library!

I was a little afraid to start Addie LaRue to be honest; it’s been hyped up so much that I was afraid to be disappointed.

However, I really enjoyed reading this book. Schwab’s writing is more poetic and lyrical than in other books I’ve read by her, and it sucked me into the story.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows, you guessed it, Addie LaRue. In France in 1714, Addie dreams of escaping her small village, but most of all, she’s desperate to avoid getting married. So she makes a deal with the devil. But the deal goes wrong, and not only is Addie now forgettable, she’s also immortal until she decides to give up her soul. 

While I’m not usually a huge fan of non-linear stories, including Vicious by Schwab herself, I think it actually worked well in this book. We jump back and forth between present time (2014 in this case) and Addie’s past escapades. Overall, this book is a slow-moving character study of Addie, and I enjoyed learning about her unique life. I appreciated the emphasis on art, and loved the overall atmosphere of the story.

There were a couple of things that kept this from being a 5 star read for me, however. While I like slow-moving, character-driven stories, I just couldn’t get over the fact that this book is devoid of basically any plot for the first ¾. And this book is a whopping 442 pages long. Instead, we spend most of the time following Addie as she suffers on the streets of different cities, and focusing on all the different lovers she takes up. 

There’s one sparse chapter about her being part of a war, which I feel like could’ve been a much more interesting part of Addie’s life, not to mention a much more interesting plot, yet we never see how it impacted her. Despite this being a highly character-driven story, I feel like Addie’s character never actually changes or evolves. And I guess that could be the point, couldn’t it? But not changing in 300 years?

It was also a little strange that Addie is alive for 300 years yet never makes it past Europe and the US. That, and the romance part of this book was subpar for me; the romantic interest was just not an interesting character to me. It didn’t help that the grandiose ending felt a little melodramatic.

Keep in mind that I can’t turn off the critical reader part of my brain. I guess getting your MFA and editing novels will do that to you! So even though there were parts of this book that I think could’ve been done differently, I still enjoyed the overall writing and the reading experience, and I think it’s worth a read.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5