Title: Earrings of Ixtumea
Author: Kim Baccellia
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: MuseItUp Publishing
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ MP
I received a copy of this novel free of charge from MuseItUp Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Barnes & Nobles:
Fifteen-year-old Lupe Hernandez dismisses the legend about her Mexican grandmother’s magical earrings as a silly fairytale, despite recurring nightmares of human sacrifice. But when the earrings thrust her into the parallel world of Ixtumea, she must confront the very thing she shuns the most — her cultural heritage.
Cover Love: Not my favorite.
This book would have been great if it had spent more time developing the background of the characters and showcasing their motivations.
Lupe, the main character, is probably the only character that is fully fleshed out while everybody else is one dimensional. Lupe has a wide range of emotions; she has strength and moments of weakness but mainly moments of hesitation. She is struggling with her social and cultural identity. Her battle is one that is very relatable to individuals who are a part of two worlds so she is interesting. Unfortunately, Lupe never really grows into herself or has true faith in her abilities. Lupe remains the damsel in distress that needs to be rescue even though she shows moments of strength. I believe that Baccellia did this in order to showcase Concha’s motherly instinct towards the daughter (Lupe) that she abandoned. It is disappointing because we have a main character that should have become stronger as the book progresses but doesn’t. Lupe was a great character because she started to understand and embrace the world she is a part of but the surrounding cast just killed her. No other character stands out as well. There is Teancum who is supposed to be a great warrior but never shows it. Ixchel the Spider Goddess was beautiful but just there. Abish the Head Maiden is the caretaker but just there.
I love villains, they have complex reasoning (tragic background) for taking over the world but I couldn’t figure out Malvado ( love his name though). He is really one-dimensional in his desire to take over the world and what little we know about his background isn’t enough to make him a complex villain. Apparently, his father is from Lupe’s world but he is living in Ixtumea. It looks like at one point Malvado lived in Lupe’s world because he has modern bed sheets and he really likes them. The question is how did he get there and how did he become stuck in Ixtumea? I don’t have an answer because the book never explains it. How did he get involved with the Jaguar god? Another question with no answer.
One of the major problems that I have with the book is the story of Redemption for the mother of Lupe, Concha. It is just dragged out for 30 pages and it was annoying because the author pretty much points towards redemption the entire time but just prolongs it. There is also the fact that Baccellia never reveals how Concha betrayed Balam or how did Malvado convince Concha to betrayed her heritage. Yeah, she had a really bad incident (which I thought was raped but that is not it) but we never see how she met Malvado. I would’ve thought that was crucial to understanding why Concha turned to darkness and killed the father of her child. She is not repentant about her involvement in the death of Balam ( not that we get to know him since he is only mentioned in passing). Her redemption is just false to me and it is an attempt to bring a happy ending to the book (which is unnecessary). Her sacrifice is great but that alone cannot undue her betrayal, the abandonment of her daughter or her constant murderous thoughts (that is really secondary though).
This novel is just at the edge of being a great book and that is so frustrating. It has great mythology behind it. The Mesoamerican history hasn’t been used greatly in young adult books so it makes the book unique. It has a relatable main lead character in Lupe because cultural issues have always plague teenagers who are trying to fit in. The problem is that there is no background to the characters. Baccellia build a great world but the characters are just not there. Still, I did enjoy reading the book.
70th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, YA Mythology, Science Fiction