If you enjoy magical realism, you will love Romina Garber’s newest book in the Wolves of No World series. Netgalley gifted me a free e-ARC of the sequel, Cazadora, and I was so excited to jump in and finish the series! In the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.
“That’s why every new generation makes improvements.”
First of all, I love that this book was filled with Spanish aphorisms and phrases, and includes vocabulary in-context to help teach Spanish to non-speakers. As someone who is constantly trying to improve my Spanish, this is something I really appreciate seeing in new books. Garber does it well, allowing the reader to infer meaning from context clues without needing to use a translator. However, I can also really appreciate having the translation dictionary available if I do need it, conveniently built into my e-reader. It saves a lot of time not having to click out of the book, and as a visual learner I enjoy seeing side-by-side translations because it really helps me to understand spelling and pronunciation.
The first book Lobizona raised important questions on issues like gender, sexuality, and the complications that arise for Latin-Americans who grow up caught between two cultures. In the same way that Manu and her Ma tread between being Argentinean Americans, Manu must find balance between her human and werewolf sides. In the world of Lunaris, gender roles still dominate the culture: girls are Brujas and boys are Lobizónes. Manu is one of the first female werewolf’s and she has to overcome the “narrow and outdated approach to identity” that permeates Lunaris culture. Even the fast that her “irises are yellow suns and pupils are silver stars” contain contrasting symbolism that foreshadows the male-female dichotomy within her.
“After everything we’ve been through, the one thing I’m sure of is, I’ve found where I belong.”
Identity is a large theme in both of the books: Manu wants to belong, but must, above all things, learn to be true to herself. Manu feels as if she is “pretending”: because she must walk a fine line between Bruja and Lobizon for most of the story, she feels as if she doesn’t truly belong. ”Just holding this paperwork makes me feel like less of a forgery.” Though she is forced out of her comfort zone, the path she finds herself taking is essential to her growth and leads her to finding out who she truly is and where she truly belongs.
“You’re shaming Lily for wanting to fit into society around her, which might be a natural impulse if you’re someone who has the choice to belong. But fitting in looks different when your left out by default.”
Though she is reserved at first, Manu believes she belongs in Lunaris. She makes friends with people who support her and defend her, and ultimately feels accepted once she reveals her truth. And not only do they accept her, they begin to follow her lead. When she challenges the binary norms and joins the team of boys, the desire for changes has an immediate ripple effect through her peers. The changes in Lunaris sort of echo the changes people are fighting for in American society: “schoolgirls refusing to wear dresses, Septimas charging Septibol fields, brujas protesting at La Rosada and demanding higher pay for their magic…”
“As much as I might try repressing that part of me, adopting a new culture doesn’t magically erase the old one. They get braided together.”
Memory is a another huge theme within the books. It is her memories that makes Manu who she is, but they also seem to keep Manu from embracing her true self. She is stuck in the past, and has a difficult time letting go. Though memories can be an important tool in constructing individual and cultural identity, for Manu it is crucial that she remakes her identity to embrace who she truly is instead of the person she once thought she was. She has a hard time letting go of her old life and fears, but it is essential to her character that she learn to let go of the old and make way for the new. At the same time, she must learn to embrace her past as well as her present, must learn to “bridge two realms of reality” to create and understand her identity, to understand where she comes from and where she really belongs, making this book a perfect read for anyone trying to navigate and understand their own identity.
Romina Garber is a New York Times and international bestselling author whose books include Lobizona & the ZODIAC series. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Miami, Florida, Romina landed her first writing gig as a teen—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.