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.
What a wild ride this story was. Thank you to NetGalley and Alexis Neuville with St. Martin’s Press for providing me this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I completely fell in love with this story within the first chapter. Manu’s struggle of being undocumented in the U.S. was heartbreaking. It’s something that happens to people every single day in this country and it’s absolutely horrible. Manu struggles with this, but loves her mother and respects her mother’s wishes. I loved Manu’s relationship with her mother. They were very close, despite the secrets between them. I was a little sad we didn’t get to see them together after they were separated when ICE took Manu’s mother away. But their love for one another was so obvious, it warmed my heart.
After ICE takes Manu’s mother, Manu finds herself in a world that was supposed to only be a myth. She lies her way into a school for Septimus. After becoming roommates with the headmistress’s daughter, Cata. Cata’s best friend, Saysa, decides Manu is going to be in their friend group. Saysa’s brother, Tiago (who I couldn’t figure out for way too long if he was Saysa’s brother or Cata’s brother) is a part of that group too. He’s the alpha of the pack and takes Manu under his wing. This romance was clear from the start and I really didn’t care for it because at their school everyone knows that Tiago and Cata are end game (but we find out some things that made this untrue and made me okay with their relationship). Though things weren’t kittens and rainbows when Manu first arrived, the four of them developed and really solid relationship, and I absolutely loved it. I loved that Manu finally felt like she had found the place she belonged. Sadly, this didn’t last long before she learned that once again, she was something that wasn’t supposed to exist, wasn’t allowed. I really liked that this book point blank discussed that immigration issues within the U.S. but it also talks about the struggle within a fantastical world. The world of the Septimus is a backward one. Men are werewolves and women are witches, there’s no room for discussion of changing these gender roles what so ever. Those in charge of Septimus are very strict in their thinking and the last person that tried to change the ways of the Septimus was Manu’s father, who Manu believed to be dead until she heard the rumors at her new school. I really liked the full circle of Manu trying to become the change right where her father left off.
Many people had issues with the fantasy world, but I really loved it. I really loved the comparison to Harry Potter and that the author had Manu be a fierce lover of the story so that Manu made the comparisons before the reader could. I thought it was an interesting world, hidden within the world we know today.
Overall, this book was heartbreaking but also incredibly fun. The found family was so wonderful, but there were also strong family values and I loved those too. The conversation this story brings to the table is a hard one but a necessary one. I really hope that so many other people will enjoy this book as much as I did.
“Deep down, we would rather be dreaming than awake.”
“You’re the spark we’re been waiting for—if you ignite, we will fan your flames. Otherwise, you’ll be alone in the dark forever.”
“But why settle for being a son of the system, when you can be the mother of a movement?”
“Plant your new garden with seeds of equality, water it with tolerance and empathy, and warm it with the temperate heat of truth.”
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.