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Zoraida Córdova's THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUÍDEA DIVINA — A Magical Book Anchored in Reality

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)

Thanks to partners NetGalley and Atria Books for the digital ARC of Zoraida Córdova's The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina (Amazon | in exchange for an honest review. The book is now available for purchase!

Zoraida Córdova's The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina begins with a letter. Orquídea Montoya is dying, so she calls her relatives to her home in Four Rivers to claim their inheritance. She’s lost touch with most of them, having driven them away with her secret keeping and stubbornness. Still, each has been marked in some way by their relationship.

Orquídea’s home is fueled by magic, a magic she brought with her when she moved to Four Rivers from Ecuador decades ago. And then she never left. When her family—and especially her grandchildren Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly—arrive, they find that Orquídea is becoming a tree, transforming as she sits, helpless in the center of her home.

Though the story begins in the present, it’s haunted by the past, by the curse that followed Orquídea and demanded her silence. As her grandchildren (and eventually Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon) investigate the curse that has now been passed on to her family, and we see—in alternating chapters—the path that led Orquídea to a home she never left. There’s a circus and a man made of starlight, abandonment from those she loves, betrayal and discrimination. Driving it all is her determination to find love, to become strong, to protect herself from being hurt, even when that drive comes with painful, permanent sacrifices.

This book is magic. I loved learning Orquídea’s story, loved seeing the way that her strength—even when it made her difficult—also found its way into those she loved. I loved the strange details of the book (for example, Marimar and Rey and Rhiannon have flowers growing from, respectively, their throat, hand, and forehead). I loved the search for identity and the way that’s both entwined with and separate from characters’ ancestors. It’s a beautiful, beautiful book. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is my first book by Zoraida Córdova, but I’m now eager to dive into her substantial backlist, to find more of the storytelling that I so appreciated here.

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