Book Review: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova


The Montoya family are used to their mysterious matriarch’s ways, but when they all receive invitations to her death day and to receive their inheritances, they reluctantly reassemble and confront Orquídea–but she has few answers to provide. Seven years after her transformation, a strange force begins attacking the Montoyas one by one, and it’s up to three of Orquídea’s kin to figure out why—and to do that they must go back to Orquídea’s roots in Ecuador before it’s too late.

Orquídea didn’t like it because she knew she wasn’t a flower, delicate and pretty and waiting to be plucked. For what? To be smelled? To sit in a glass of water until she withered? She was more than that. She wanted to be rooted so deep into the earth that nothing, no human, no force of nature, save an act of the heavens themselves, could rip her out.

This was incredible!

I absolutely, utterly loved it. It felt like a modern day retelling of Stardust, with the lush writing and magic of The Night Circus and its own, beautiful self spreading its limbs out in all directions.

There’s not a whole lot I really want to talk about without spoiling anything, but the story is very much about family history: what is told, what isn’t told, what changes in the telling and why. And how the tip-lipped nature of the family matriarch and keeper of the history can make or break the rest of the family in her attempt to keep everyone safe from her past.

“Orquídea’s favourite colour was the blue of twilight – just light enough that the sky no longer appeared black, but before pinks and purples bled into it. She thought that colour captured the moment the world held it’s breath, and she’d been holding hers for a long time.”

Right from the get-go, I was in love with the writing. The prose is just so magical without delving into purple obnoxiousness, and I was in awe at Córdova’s writing, because while I’ve enjoyed her previous YA entries, I really, really feel like she has found her home in adult fantasy. The plot unfolded with delicious slowness, with past and present flashbacks that kept me guessing and trying to figure out just what Orquídea was hiding from, and did I mention that writing? I cannot get over how beautiful it was.

“But here, in her family’s home, she was river and salt and that same sea found her. She was the mouth of an ancient god who would swallow the world. She was an ocean of stories, memories, thousands of little moments that made up her whole being.”

This is very much a family saga, with a focus on family. The fights, the tension, what’s said and not said, what’s owed to one’s children and to one’s past—and it’s also about being Latine in the United States, throughout its history and today. What it means to move through a world with brown skin when the false-norm is white skin. How to bloom and settle into what’s meant to be and your purpose when the rest of the world either wants to tokenize or reject you.

Ugh. This book is just so good. It’s definitely going to be going on my top books of 2021 list!

We don’t talk. None of us. Why don’t we ever talk? Silence is a language of its own in this family. A curse of our own making. That’s the inheritance my daughter got from me, and I am very sorry.”

I received an ARC for an honest review, but ended up waiting until I could get the audiobook from my library—take my advice, and listen to the audiobook. It’s divine.

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