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 baptism. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to come and 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.
I had no idea what I was in for with this book, and sometimes that’s the best way to go in. It’s a story about family and fate, one that I feel you should go into with as little knowledge as possible to truly get gripped into the story.
Orquídea Montoya is dying, at least that’s what she tells her family when she sends them all letters saying to come and collect their inheritance. The Montoyas are used to things being a little weird, but when they get to Orquídea’s house in Four Rivers to find it overtaken with roots and decay, they are understandably a little worried. They hope to get the answers Orquídea has kept from them all these years, but instead she leaves them with more questions than answers, and suddenly a mysterious presence starts following the family and picking them off one by one. What follows is a tale of magic, romance and family alternating between past and present that allows the Montoyas to learn the truth about Orquídea, where her magic came from and what exactly their inheritance is.
The story is told from both past and present POV’s. The past focuses solely on Orquídea as we find out how she came to hold her special branch of magic, while the future is split between multiple members of the Montoya clan. Though we get insights from a multitude of characters the main focus is on Marimar, Raymundo, Tantinelly & Rhiannon. These all get something a little extra in regards to the Inheritance, something I wont mention for fear of spoilers, but it ensures they stay in the spotlight.
“When she’d met Orquídea Montoya, she saw a whisper of a girl who wanted to become a scream.”
Orquídea was by far my favourite character, both in the past and present tense. Growing up a bastard, unloved by the mother who blamed her for her lot in life, she had to become resilient, strong, reliant on herself because no one else was going to save her. She could be witty and charming, but underneath it all was a strength, she knew the world owed her nothing, but she was determined to take something from it, carve out a life and family of her own, and she would do whatever it took to ensure that happened.
As for the present characters, Marimar and Rey were hopeless millennials that I would do anything for, they both revered and resented their grandmother in equal measure and saw Orquídea as half person, half legend, something they could never quite grab though she was always within reach. They carry their own hurt, though it manifests in different ways. Tantinelly was seemingly the most like her grandmother, she wanted something in life and went out and got it, a husband and eventually Rhiannon, her child. Rhiannon never met her grandmother but has a strange bond with her the others can’t seem to understand. Along side the other Montoyas these make for a family filled with love, loss and just a little mistrust.
“There were hundreds of things Marimar wanted to know. Why is this happening? Why can’t we stop it? Why didn’t you try to tell me sooner? Who are you? Why do this? What broke your heart so completely that it’s splinters found their way through generations?”
The story flows brilliantly, the flits between past and present happen at the perfect moments to ensure you stay engrossed in the story, and I really struggled to put it down, desperate to know how it would end. It is a fantasy, with a wish based magic system I can’t really talk too much about without giving away spoilers, but it’s also has mystery elements, not just with how Orquídea got her magic, but who is the hidden figure that haunts the Montoyas and what does it want with them. There are plenty of clues thrown in and I was SO CLOSE in guessing the ending, but she still managed to shock me and give us an emotional and hilarious ending.
Cordova’s prose is incredibly lush, I have so many sections highlighted because it was so beautifully written. It seriously adds to the atmosphere of the novel, creepy, romantic and wishful when needed and I just found myself re-reading passages because of how much they impacted me. I know this is a novel about magic, but Cordova’s writing is a kind of magic of it’s own, and it’s certainly a book I will find myself re-reading. This is undoubtedly one of those unique reads, a book that I can think of nothing to compare it to, but one that will enchant readers, making anyone who reads the pages an unofficial member of the Montoya clan, claiming readers who can’t help but get emotionally invested in their stories and the characters who inhabit them.
I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers so instead I’m just going to say READ THIS BOOK! You will not be disappointed. It’s a story that, once you put down, you will want to pick up again almost instantly. A story filled with generational curses, a wish based magic, characters I would die for and a rooster with nine lives, and honestly if that doesn’t sell it to you I don’t know what will. All the stars for this one.