Cover Image: Lucha of the Night Forest

Lucha of the Night Forest

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Member Reviews

The mess of this book left my heart a mess.

3.5 Rounded up to 4. Odd to be entertained and confused at the same time. I loved the premise, the sisterly love, and the magic system within the forest. It did feel like it needed to be tightened up through the middle section and expanded at the beginning to world build a bit more. The plot twist was pretty predictable. Yet I was still rushing to get to the end. If you like slow-burn romance, a strong female character who'd destroy the world for her little sister, and a magic forest, this is it. 

Writing: 
Phenomenal. Loved the writing, it kept me moving through the slower parts and somewhat flat characters. Great quotes, so many highlighted sections that I'll go back to reread. I loved the prose, the romance, the descriptions. I wanted more. 

Plot: 
I appreciated the commentary of how those in power are corrupted by it despite their best intentions, the links between life and death, addiction, and the difference in having a choice vs seeming to have a choice. The slow burn romance had me begging for more! I did like the villain, however minor antagonists (Alan) fell a bit flat for me and minor characters were nearly non-existent (which I get, they're in the forest, but it hurt the world building). The romance was a bit insta-love, which I usually really dislike but in this sense, it felt fine. 

Characters: 
Lucha was a pretty run of the mill heroine, fighting for her sister and maybe finding love along the way. She was well developed other than a bit of her backstory that was more taken at face value (her hunting skills). Her motivations were sound, and I was rooting for her the entire time. 

Paz was also pretty run of the mill sidekick. Her story was really the only thing that surprised me in the book. She felt a bit flat due to her motivations but overall I thought she was the most complicated character with internal conflict. 

Our main villain was well developed, but once again, a bit cliche of a backstory and did not fool me one bit. 

World building: 
Beyond the explanation of their town and the forest, we don't get much explanation about the rest of the world. It made me feel very isolated in the story, which was both a great plot device and an aspect that left me wanting more. The magic system within the forest was well thought out and explained. The villain's origin did feel very cliche, but I enjoyed it. We meet very few other people so the story felt isolated from the world. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book and will pick up the next one or another from Tehlor Kay Mejia!

Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are my own.
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Lucha’s town is overrun by a drug that makes everyone forget while they are on it. When her mom succumbs to her addiction and is no longer reliable, it is up to Lucha to take care of her sister. After she breaks them out of captivity by essentially making a deal with a devil, she must learn to harness her power before it consumes her. 

I was expecting more magic in this book. I also found it a little slow, especially since the description called it high paced. That could just be for me though! I think it had a lot of promise, but it didn’t deliver for me. 

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked the beginning of this book, though a lot of it made me angry, I think that was the intention. It felt like things were happening too quickly and the characters were acting like more time passed then what actually had. I basically lost all interest after the cult showed up.
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Thank you so much to NetGalley for allowing me to read this early! I absolutely loved this book, although I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as YA. There are some adult themes throughout the novel, especially in the beginning, that probably should be acknowledged with content warnings (such as drug use and overdose, and forced prostitution). These themes made the story grittier and certainly raised the stakes, but I do think they should be acknowledged. 
Ultimately, I loved this book. It is a story of exploitation and anger and love and redemption. It is a story about a broken family and a girl who had to grow up too fast. But it is also a story of a young woman who does whatever it takes to eradicate the death and destruction caused by a  devastating drug to save people like her mother and sister. 
There’s also a sentient forest. 
And lesbians. 
What else could you ask for? 
Perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic (you’ll see quite soon why) and I could not recommend this book enough.
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This book was unfortunately a DNF for me at 45%. I just could not get into this story. The writing style was not for me and I found myself forcing myself to read this and it’s not fair to the book or the author to do that and then review it negatively when it’s an issue with me and not the book. 

I looked at a few reviews from people who had the same issues I had with it and they ended up not enjoying it by the end so I don’t want to push myself through it.
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"There are no agreements between captors and prisoners," Lucha said. "There's only freedom. At any cost. By any means."


Lucha Moya and her little sister Lis live in the glorious city of Robado; except not really, bc Robado is a complete pit. they're basically orphans, with their dad dead back from when they were little and their mom addicted to the local drug of choice. Lucha had to grow up young and grow up fast to take care of her and Lis as there was literally no one else who would.

Robado is dirty and dark and sad and the local 'government' (a pair of drug empire kings called Los Ricos) could care less about it. they only care about the money they make off their drug Olvida, and to a significantly lesser extent the creepy forest that keeps trying to inch its way back into town. all the dirt in Robado is dead, thoroughly salted and uninhabitable, a last ditch attempt to keep the woods out.

why are the woods so spooky? well apart from it being called the Bosque de la Noche, sometimes people who clear-cut new extensions get turned into/killed by (usually both) a giant white mushroom. local superstition is rife with stories of Lo Sediento, a tall and spindly dude with long dark hair and intense 'demon red' eyes, who will snatch your soul if you call his name. and if all those stories weren't enough, the woods are also crawling with sombralados, huge-mongous smoky corvid skeletons that fly around and eat people.

Lucha is one of the few locals who deal with the latter problem (there's really nothing to be done for the unfortunate mushroom fellas, and nobody can decide if Lo Sediento is real or not). she's a cazadora, a hunter of the bird beasties, one of the youngest and most efficient in her field. there's a bit of a secret to her skills however; Lucha has a mysterious ability to make herself invisible to the monsters. she can walk right up to them and they will never perceive her, so inevitably she makes a killing (lol 💸) with this job.

the thing Lucha hates more than anything else in the world is the drug that ruined her city and took her mom from her; Olvida, the forgetting drug, mass marketed by Los Ricos and sold at the local black market. Olvida is a drug distilled from the Pensa, an old plant that original pilgrims chewed to "open their mind" to the goddess (another entity who may or may not exist, idk). now the euphoria effect is condensed and intense, and people very rapidly become addicted to the sensation.

Lucha would give anything to destroy this drug empire and protect her sister. anything at all -- maybe even her soul.


I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad I got the chance to read it early! the storytelling is very dreamy and easy to read; the characters are complex but fun, all full of startling plot twists and reveals. Lis' character growth was lovely. I wish there had been a bit more worldbuilding (no sufficient explanation was ever given for the sombralados, and since I really liked them I really wanted one) but honestly it's easy to overlook bc it leans into the book's overall vibe. a lot of the details feel purposefully soft-edged and hazy, like the reader is experiencing a little bit of the Olvida high themselves.


rep - sapphic mc, sapphic love interest
thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the arc ✨
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While I was excited at first, this book was a struggle to get through. Uneven pacing, flat side characters, and a muddy conflict made it difficult to stay fully engaged with the story, which at times felt less like a story and more like a series of random events. Although Lucha was a strong lead character on her own and on paper, she seemed to not quite slot into the world being crafted? Her relationship with the forest, and even her relationships with the three main side characters (the supernatural antagonist, her love interest, and her sister) felt strangely disconnected. 

There are so many interesting nuggets of detail here, particularly with the worldbuilding, but nothing was fleshed out enough for my tastes.
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This YA fantasy novel follows Lucha Moya - an independent FMC whose primary goal is to protect her sister Lis.

Living in a bleak world where so many people - including her mother - have succumbed to their addiction to a forgetting drug called olvida, Lucha spends her days hunting beasts to make barely enough money to take her of herself and Lis.

When her sister strikes a detrimental bargain, Lucha's life changes drastically as she sets out on a difficult journey involving forgotten magic, ancient dieties, a beautiful but suspicious acolyte, and a dangerous forest with a mind of its own.

Personally, I found that while the first half of this story was interesting, I LOVED the second half and could not put the book down once I got to it.

Lucha is a strong, single-minded MC who will do anything to protect her sister, and I really admired the clear-cut purpose with which she approached every situation.

Additionally, this book did a really great job of presenting multiple antagonists and weaving them in a complicated web of faith, religion, strategy, and magic.

I loved the energy Paz brought to the story and seeing how her side of the story played out was incredibly intriguing!

Paz and Lucha made a great pairing and, I won't spoil anything, but I am obsessed with the writing and events of the last seven chapters.

I can't wait to see what comes next for Lucha!
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This had so much potential, but I'm not quite sure what happened... 

Meet Lucha who is living with so much fear of what is to come next. Lucha and her sister live together with their mom coming in and out of the picture. All they have is each other until one day their mom doesn't come back home... It's known to the girls that she goes on binges and can disappear for days. However, this last time may just be the final straw because they are going to be kicked to the streets if their mother doesn't return to work. Lucha is too young to work and is unable to make enough money to keep her sister safe... what to do next? this is when the story starts. 

The world-building in this book could have been SO much better. I felt lost anyime Lucha would bring something up about the gods and how her world came to be. There's wasn't much history or if there was, it would be too detailed to make sense of what was even being explained. I love a good young adult fantasy book, but I wasn't the biggest fan of this one... 
 
There was only one POV told from Lucha which was good based upon the story. Lucha was okay, I was hoping to love her character development, however I couldn't attach myself to her. I did like her sister and the fellow traveler following along (won't reveal any names to keep from spoilers). Would I recommend it, ehhh but just because I wasn't a fan doesn't mean it's not a good book!! It just wasn't for me.
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I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. It was just okay. I didn't feel a connection to the characters. The writing was done well though. The story was interesting. I'd say if it sounds good to you then definitely give it a try. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read the arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I read an ARC copy of Lucha of the Night Forest. Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Children’s Publishing for this opportunity.

I have to put a caveat here that this is a strong mood read book for me. When I was in a mood for mostly happy fantasy or silly books, this book dragged on like no one’s business. But as soon as I got in a mood where I just needed to stew for a little while in my anger and hatred of the world and how unfair it not only was for me but everyone who had it even worse, this was the perfect book to rage and be utterly depressed with. 

This book primarily followers three female protagonists. There’s Lucha who does all she can to make the money they need to keep the home they have in the worst part of the city, while also looking for her mother who’s hooked on a drug that lets you forget for a time, and in big enough doses, and after enough time, makes you forget everything completely. There’s also her sister, who sees Lucha as an embarrassment around her friends, and uses whatever money she does have to get the drug that has taken their mother from them. And then there’s an acolyte who’s going around treating drug addicts and not doing enough to protect herself and hide that she’s a worshipper of a goddess whose worship of can get you executed. 

Lucha wants nothing to do with the acolyte at first and works for an old friend who has fallen in with a gang and becomes scummier, and scummier over time. After tearing him apart after refusing to join them officially, he shows up in their apartment, saying they’ll be thrown out at the end of the month, even if they make enough money to keep the apartment, as only people working for the gang can live in the apartments. Lucha’s sister says she’ll join, offering her body as something useful for the gang, but Lucha tries to stop her, promising to find their mother before the end of the month. 

Of course, nothing goes right, and Lucha ends up with a scorned God invading her mind and making her more powerful but in a way she doesn’t understand so can’t control. And her sister get’s sworn in, and she gets thrown in a cell as the gang she once worked for now wants to use this new power of hers to their advantage. They keep her sister from her during this time, and that ends up being a bad idea, as she breaks free, joins with the acolyte, disappears into the dangerous, monster-filled forest, and now she has a budding romance, an uncontrollable power with an evil god in her head, and a sister rapidly and dangerously detoxing. 

And there are only a few moments of levity and peace from there. This story is bleak, and sad, and any hope that you have that she might get a break in this place, or these people she comes in contact with, is quickly smashed into tiny little pieces. 

I’m buying this book. It’s well written. The background of the story is fascinating. The worldbuilding is beautifully harrowing, and it’s perfect for those moments when I just need to wallow in sadness and anger. If you need that type of book to wallow in before you can go back to try and bring yourself back up then this might just be the book for you too.
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Lucha lives with her sister and her mother, though since their mother has become addicted to a dangerous drug, she’s rarely home. Lucha does her best to provide for her family by entering the dangerous nearby forest to hunt monsters but feels overwhelmed and confined by all of it. When her sister tries to take matters into her own hands, it leaves Lucha with an even bigger mess, and she’s forced to strike a bargain with a shadowy and dangerous entity. As she brims with new power, she’s faced with difficult and dangerous decisions that may cost the lives of everyone she cares about.

This was a solid fantasy read full of magic, deities, and the struggle between religion and its interpretation. The best part of this book is the worldbuilding. From the beginning, we’re immersed in a rich world full of monsters and unique plant life that the author excels at describing and incorporating into the plot. I also loved the information that was gradually revealed about the deities and how their worship influenced the decisions of their followers. That being said, there were some instances where I felt the worldbuilding was lacking. One example was that there wasn’t much context of the greater world, so that some things that were casually mentioned weren’t grounded in a way that made sense. 

There were a few things that detracted from my enjoyment of the work. There was an instance where time jumped substantially but it wasn’t made clear until it was briefly mentioned much later in the book. I also really wanted to like the romance but disliked how unsubstantial it felt. It didn’t feel forced, but more of like it had no real good reason for existing and that it wasn’t developed enough to add anything to the plot or characters. The characters all felt somewhat detached from the story, which left me wanting more from them though they were still well written overall. 

This was a well written work of fantasy that I enjoyed and do recommend overall. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for allowing me to read this work, which will be published in March 2023. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I could not finish this book. The writing was difficult to follow, the characters made connections that I didn't fully understand and jumped into solving a problem that I also didn't fully understand. The world and characters didn't feel fleshed out enough that I believed their motivations when the story got going.
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This book started off pretty slow and a bit....disjointed? But, as the book went on it definitely smoothed out a bit. I wasn't super interested in what was going on, though, so even though it starts to make more sense toward the middle I just didn't care. I didn't like/feel any emotions toward any of the characters, I didn't like the romance, and the overall story just made me feel confused and then bored. I liked the Sapphic nature of the romance, but that was where my enjoyment stopped with this one. Definitely still give it a try if the premise interests you! I just, personally, didn't like it--but I know that many people will love this!
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Lucha is a survivor. She's been through so much in her life, so hunting monsters in a haunted forest isn't terrifying, it's how she puts food on the table. The story flies by as you get wrapped up in the magic of the world Mejia creates. Lucha will do everything she can to protect her younger sister and rid the world of the drug that has done so much damage to her city. Fast, fascinating, heart breaking, and filled with the magic of love throughout.
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Lucha of the Night Forest is a breath of fresh air in the YA Fantasy genre!

Lucha of the Night forest is such a fun read that captivated me the whole time!! It makes me so happy to see books with sapphic and Latinx representation be published. As someone who falls into both of these communities it feels so amazing to be able to feel represented in a book, and especially with this being a young adult novel, I cannot fathom the number of young girls who will be able to relate to finally relate to a protagonist who looks like them. It‘s something I wish I had more of, and still actively seek out. Queer representation in media is so important for young people; being able to read about narratives where queer people exist, where they are the main character, makes this journey of self-discovery, that can be isolating, so much easier. 

I hope to see more novels like Lucha of the Night Forest be picked up for publishing, and I cannot wait to read more from Mejia!

-
Thank you to Netgalley and to Peguin Random House for the eARC!
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So I wanna give this book 3.5 stars. It started off pretty slow and I kind of had to piece together what was going on in the book but I really enjoyed the adventures of Lucha and following her fight for what she believed in. To protect her sister Lis, to make the world beautiful again and not corrupt with El Ediento. 

Lucha is gifted but she doesn't realize. When it comes to light that there may be something special about her she goes on a journey to find a way to destroy the Olvidado. By the end of the book the story finally came full circle piecing everything together. Ultimately it came down to survival and saving the world. I enjoyed it.
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Well, what a journey! Lucha of the Night Forest was a such fun read. It definitely is a can't-put-down book. The worldbuilding is fantastic such as the characters development. I think Meija has done an incredible job writing this book!
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A girl who will have to make the ultimate bargain in order to save her sister, throw in dark forces, forgotten magic, and a bit of romance. Lucha lives in Robado, a place that is not so great... her mother is addicted to a forgetting drug, her sister isn’t helpful, and Lucha is forced to hunt dangerous creatures in order to make ends meet for her sister and herself. Robado is surrounded by a dangerous forest filled with monsters, a goddess who is connected to nature, and for some strange reason Lucha is connected to it. When Lucha’s mother doesn’t return home or report for work, Lucha and her sister are threatened by someone Lucha use to know who is now determined to covet both girls for himself. Lucha refuses to let this happen to them and soon discovers that she has powers aided by El Sediento, a legend of the forest that results in her being captured... until El Sediento offers her a bargain... and she’ll have no choice but to accept. Along the way she finds herself accompanied by a healer who might have her own secrets. Lucha will have to come into her own power while deciding what this power means to her and what she will do with it.  This story unfortunately did not work for me, I initially was really interested but soon found myself losing interest. Lucha gave off Katniss Everdeen vibes, she had to hunt to protect her sister while dealing with an absentee mother and a world that is working against her and then having a love interest who is on the softer side. Lis, the younger sister, was just so irritating, there I said it, The romance was okay but I just didn’t really feel it. The overall story felt kind of makes you feel a bit lost. So while this one didn’t work for me, definitely give it a try if you are looking for a fantasy adventure with sisterhood and sapphic romance.

*Thanks Netgalley and Random House Children's, Make Me a World for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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Lucha of the Night Forest is such a good read! This book had just about everything, I don’t know where to begin: sapphic characters, found family, Latinx representation…

There’s so much going on in this book, but I think the best part was the world building. This book literally begins with a passage discussing the world building in the story, and I still wasn’t ready for everything! 

I hope we see more of Lucha’s story, this book was too good for this to be it!!
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