Diverse Books, YA Books

Oculta by Maya Motayne – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodderscape and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This is the sequel to Nocturna and I absolutely adored this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is traveling and reveling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.

That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime syndicates.

Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. The mysterious organization responsible for his brother’s murder has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.

But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?

TWs: Violence, death, PTSD, hallucinations, mentions of domestic abuse, blood, gore, panic attacks, grief, mentions of alcohol abuse, racism, slavery and colonisation

This book starts a few months after the events of Nocturna and we see that Finn has left and travelled while also committing a whole host of high end robberies and Alfie is now the crown prince and has accepted this role and is committed to serving his people. They are both leading their own paths and yet their minds wander back to each other and I was LIVING for it.

This book is unapologetically Latinx and I loved it! The culture, the clothes the food the language, just everything was so wonderfully Latinx. We also see the royals from Englassen in this book who are colonisers and while Castallan is now free from their enslavement we can still see the generational trauma and how much of their history was lost because of it. The people of Englassen are still enslaved by the white people there so it isn’t even something that is a distant past. It is something Alfie and his people can still see happening. It was so painfully real to read at times but Maya dealt with it so well and called out the micro aggressions that people of colour still have to deal with even now. It reminded me of a lot of the things I would have to smile and tolerate at my previous work place and the white privilege people benefitted from but refused to acknowledge.

When Luka calls a white woman’s skin mayonnaise colour after they are spoken to in the same way I just had to stop for a minute because it was a lot to see it being called out so clearly in the book. I really appreciate how these discusiions happen in the book and we see how Alfie, Luka and the others have to tolerate a lot of it because they are trying to build a peace treaty with them. We also see those who are opposed to this because they do not want anything to do with the colonisers in their home country. Both sides have valid arguments and Maya leaves it up to us to decide what our own opinions are.

I loved seeing Finn and Alfie work together again and how much they cared for each other but refused to acknowledge it because of who they are. The tension and angst is built so wonderfully through the book and by the end I was literally screaming at them to accept it already! They both had such great character growth too, individually and together. We see Finn battle with her own demons and finally overcome them and Alfie becomes the leader he needs to be for his people.

I also loved seeing more of Luka and how much he has had to endure and how he changed because of the events of Nocturna and the guilt he feels but also his relationship with Alfie felt so real. They fight they disagree yet when they need to they are there for each other. I also loved that the King and Queen are present and a part of Alfie’s life. They are great parents and deeply in love and it was such a nice change to see that in the book.

The last 100 pages and the ending left me a MESS. I am still not over all the revelations and plot twists some of which I did not see coming at all even though when I think back the foreshadowing was there and I was shook. The way this story ends left me with the worst book hangover and I absolutely need the next book asap because the wait is going to kill me.

Everyone go read Nocturna and Oculta!

Diverse Books, YA Books

Nocturna by Maya Motayne – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book, there are some intense moments and great characters which kept me reading well into the night!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.
To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.
As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.
After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.
But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Once I started this book I could not put it down! The story was intense and fast paced and action packed! The characters were all great too and I especially loved Finn! The magic system was really interesting too.

The only thing I wish there was more of was the Latinx culture. One of the reasons I was so interested to read it was because it was a Latinx inspired world but I didn’t feel it was included as much as I would have liked.

The magic system where each characters propio is different depending on what they needed it to be and how a significate event triggers their power. It really shows how different each of the characters are.

Finn is my favourite character in this book. She has such a great character arc and seeing how much she grows and learns to believe in herself and become more than what she has been constantly told she is was so great to see. She has had a difficult life and has been told she is a monster her whole so much so that she thinks she is. She is so complex and morally grey and I really loved that.

I really loved how Alfie believed in her even when she didn’t believe in herself and how she helped Alfie through his grief. It was really great to see characters supporting each other.

Alfie is has made some selfish decisions while grieving for his brother but he does accept that he needs to move on be the king that his people need. I did find him annoying at times when he wouldn’t go to the people who could have helped him instead trying to fix it himself.

I also really liked Luka, who is Alfie’s cousin, he is adorable and I wish we got to see more of him. It was so nice seeing how much Alfie loves him so much that he puts his life above the kingdom. I am also interested in seeing what Luka’s new abilities will mean for him the next book.

The villain in this book was actually pretty terrifying and we get to see a lot of his backstory through Finn and Alfie and it just made me hate him even more. The way he tried manipulating Finn and Alfie by showing them their worst fears, it was horrible to watch them go through it. But I did love how both of them started to work through them and overcome them.

I know this book is the first in a series but this book has a complete arc so I’m interested to see what will happen in the next book.

Have you read the book? What did you think?