Title: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Published: September 7th, 2021 (Atria Books)
Synopsis: The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even 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, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. 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, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked backed.
Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.
Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“You have to focus all of your energy on that connection every family has. It’s in our bones, our blood. More than that, it’s in the questions we need answered. The secrets, traumas, and legacies that we don’t know we’ve inherited, even if we don’t want them.”
The Montoyas gather at their family home in Four Rivers when they all receive invitations to attend the funeral of their matriarch, Orquidea Divina and collect their inheritances. But Orquidea hasn’t died, she has transformed – just one more unanswered question in a long line of puzzling occurrences. They each receive their inheritances, in the form of various magical powers, and go their separate ways. Over the next seven years, the gifts have manifested in different ways for those who followed Orquidea’s last instructions flourish, most particularly for her grandchildren, Marimar and Rey, and her great-granddaughter Rhiannon. But someone starts hunting down the Montoyas for their magic, one after another, the family knows the answer lies in Orquidea’s past, which she never spoke about. The three of them, along with Rhiannon’s mother Tatinelly, travel to Ecuador, where Orquidea spent her childhood in hopes of uncovering the truth and saving what remains of their family.
I was so excited to see that Zoraida Cordova had a second new book out this year, especially since I really enjoyed Illusionary a couple of months ago. This is, I believe, her first adult novel and very different from any of her other books I’ve read before. The writing is absolutely beautiful and there’s a dreamy feel to the narration, particularly the descriptions of Guayaquil and the mysterious magic that Orquidea can wield.
“Some people were meant for great, lasting legacies. Others were meant for small moments of goodness, tiny but that rippled and grew in big, wide ways.”
The story is narrated through dual timelines, focusing on Orquidea’s life in the past, and her descendants’ quest to find answers in the present. The flashbacks to Orquidea’s past were definitely the most interesting part for me as her history and the truth behind her many secrets came to light piece by piece, starting from her childhood in Guayaquil and her encounter with the river monster. Her descendants’ POVs were equally intriguing though, as, growing up in the United States, they are the product of a very different culture to the one Orquidea grew up in, yet having been raised in the house at Four Rivers with the family also had its own effect. It was particularly fascinating to see how each of them viewed Orquidea in such different ways and had their own images of her. It’s a rather dense read and you need to pay close attention to the story, because the POVs change frequently and it’s not always clear when they do.
While I enjoyed this concept behind this story, the genre of magical realism, much like urban fantasy, is for me, a hard genre to like. And this book might have actually worked for me, if it were not for the pacing. A slow moving story is one thing, but it’s quite another thing when a narrative doesn’t move past what is entirely obvious from the synopsis until more than halfway through the book and it was frankly an exhausting read, just waiting for the story to get to the point. This is essentially a family saga for most of the book, and it’s the kind of meandering narrative that I rarely have the patience for. However, it’s just due to my reading style that this wasn’t to my taste. I imagine there will be quite a few readers out there who will love this book for this exact same reason. The other thing I found irritating about this book was the ridiculous lack of emotion. There were some really intense things going on, from Orquidea getting turned into a tree, to various family members dying, to Rhiannon suddenly and tragically losing both her parents, and it barely seemed to affect any of the characters.
The ending was actually more along the lines of what I was expecting this entire book to be, with action-packed scenes, family secrets revealed, and the characters actually using their magic. It’s a pity it was all crammed into the last part of the book, making it feel like such an abrupt departure from the comparatively placid first half or so. The details behind the curse were explained far too late to really build up any suspense and it would have been so much better if the author had let it linger for a few more chapters. All said and done however, I did enjoy the writing and I’m glad I picked this up. If the story sounds interesting to you and the genre is something you enjoy, I would recommend it!
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina releases on September 7th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.