A Latinx Harry Potter, but rather than wizards they’re werewolves, Lobizona blends genre conventions to enchant readers with this Argentinian fused sultry magical drama.Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink
Manuela Azul (Manu for short) wants one thing: to belong. And as an undocumented immigrant living in Miami, Florida she longs for the day to be a legal citizen. But a week before Manu’s seventeenth birthday her world falls apart. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) arrests her mother and she is on the run.
Without anywhere to go and only a handful of clues about her past, Manu stumbles upon her father’s past and into a world she only knew as folklore. A place where her unique features aren’t going to make her stand out, but is a place where she belongs.
Before reading the synopsis I was drawn in by the cover. You’re instantly taken by the dark uncanny imagery. The design of the cover entails a young girl with hair that flows into wild untamed foliage. Her unusual eyes as gold as the sun. It’s a breathtaking image.
Once I read the synopsis I was hooked. My goal as a reader is to immerse myself into novels that have roots in more diverse soil. Where these novels are also written by diverse authors. And this novel is one of them. Written by an Argentinian, Garber infuses her story with rich details of Argentinian folklore. She includes Spanish speaking characters and the paralyzing reality of undocumented immigrants.
Lobizona captivated from the very first chapters. Manu’s anxiety, her alienation from the world. How she escaped her reality. Diving into the novels she read in droves and her awareness of her own body was refreshing. It isn’t often authors focus on what young girls go through on a monthly basis. Or how it affects their lives on a regular basis is something readers will identify and appreciate.
A Few More Thoughts
Garber also vividly depicts a stifling world where no one sees Manu for who she is, constantly having to hide herself in order to live a semi-normal life. She uses themes of gender identity, racial and gender inequality, and acceptance, weaving them into her story, magnified by the experiences Manu encounters throughout the novel.
Although Garber does not go into great detail of the magical school as J.K. Rowling does for Hogwarts in her Harry Potter series: the intricacies of the day-to-day life of a student and staff, you still have this vivid visual of Lobizona’s magical school itself along with the relatable teenage drama.
One More Thing
I did have a few concerns. The pacing of the plot at times seemed rushed or confusing. When the setting transitioned from Miami to the magical realm there seemed to be a disconnect, where I had to go back and read to ensure where I was within the story.
Where it felt most rushed was during transitional periods of the school weeks. I felt here there were missed opportunities. Garber had moments where she could have dove deeper into the mythology and founding of the school. While also exploring more of the classes preparing students to enter society as a werewolf or witch.
All in all I enjoyed reading this book. My hope is Lobizona will reach a larger audience. An audience who will appreciate the beauty and wonder Garber builds. Along with the fascinating cultural aspects imbued by the rich and sumptuous details that make this a satisfying read.
Happy Reading ̴ Cece
RATING: – Satisfyingly Inked
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September, 2020
Audience: Young Adult ages 12 and up
Jacket Illustration and Design: Unkown at this time