March 23, 2023

BLOG TOUR Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Hi friends! I'm pleased to be participating in the tour organized by TBR and Beyond Tours for Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia. Please check out the book and how you can get your own copy below. Make sure you show some love to the other hosts as well - the link to the schedule is below. 

About the Book

An edge-of-your-seat fantasy about a girl who will do anything to protect her sister–even if it means striking a dangerous bargain. Dark forces, forgotten magic, and a heart-stopping queer romance make this young adult novel a must-read.

A scorned god.
A mysterious acolyte.
A forgetting drug.
A dangerous forest.
One girl caught between the freedom she always wanted and a sister she can’t bear to leave behind.
Under the cover of the Night Forest, will Lucha be able to step into her own power…or will she be consumed by it?

This gorgeous and fast-paced fantasy novel from acclaimed author Tehlor Kay Mejia is brimming with adventure, peril, romance, and family bonds–and asks what it means for a teen girl to become fully herself.

Content Warning: Addiction & toxic relationship with partner

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Indigo | IndieBound

Rep: Queer & Latinx

REVIEW of Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Rating: 4 Stars

Release Date: March 21, 2023

Format: eBook (Courtesy of NetGalley, Publisher, and TBR and Beyond Tours) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)

Publisher: Make Me a World

My first foray into Tehlor Kay Mejia’s books was their middle-grade series Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, so I was very excited to get the chance to read their latest young adult novel. Lucha of the Night Forest is a darker young adult fantasy book complete with a fierce sisterly bond, a budding queer romance, and a unique spin on the magic system.

Lucha’s love for her sister is evident, and serves as the driving force for most of the action in the story. Born and raised in Robado, Lucha has fought to keep her sister safe from the harsher realities of life, and keep a roof over their heads as their mother struggles with a drug addiction. After their mother’s latest episode results in the family losing their home, Lucha is forced into the dark forest surrounding the city and must make a bargain with a nightmarish figure straight out of legend to save that which she loves most.  

The world-building is unique in many ways. First of all, there are the allegorical comparisons the author makes through the people and places present in the book. For example, the class disparity between the wealthy and the poor is mirrored in our own society. There’s also the magical element of the book. The forest is super creepy and ominous - it was interesting to see the reverence for Nature present.. Also, talk about fantastical Lucha is the ‘chosen one’ of sorts, gifted with the power of the forest goddess. However, she’s not interested in anything but saving her sister. In seeing both aspects I was reminded a lot of Katniss Everdeen in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. Neither ever set out to take up the ‘savior’-esque roles they found themselves placed in. All they wanted to do was save their sisters, and from the harsh cruelties of the world.  They both have to make major choices about what role they want to take in shaping the future going forward. 

Paz and Lucha are a unique pairing. Their connection to each other is fairly obvious as soon as they meet, but on paper they are opposite in every way. Lucha is hardened by the various trials and tribulations she’s had to face in taking care of her family, and she’s reluctant to let anyone close enough where they could hurt her. Paz, on the other hand, is fiercely loyal to her goddess and what she sees as her calling. I enjoyed getting to watch their budding romance grow; I wish that readers had gotten to see some of the story from her perspective as well. 

There were a lot of highlights in the book, however one drawback was the pacing. It was very inconsistent and as such it made it hard for me to follow what was happening. Sometimes, it’s slow and other times the author drops readers straight into the middle of the action. If I hadn't been listening to the audiobook and reading the eBook simultaneously, I suspect I would have been very lost.

Overall, this was a great novel and a very enjoyable read. To the best of my knowledge, this book is intended to be a standalone - the ending ties everything up nicely and there are no loose story threads to be explored later. Elena Rey delivered a solid performance in the audiobook version of the book. If you’re the type of reader who enjoys sapphic young adult fantasy romances complete with strong familial ties and innovative magic systems you should definitely check this book out.  

Thank you to the author, the publisher Make Me a World, NetGalley and the team at TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book as part of my participation in the tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review the book immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed Lucha of the Night Forest. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

CONTENT WARNINGS: Drug Abuse, Drug Addiction, Death

About the Author

TEHLOR KAY MEJIA is a bestselling and award winning author of young adult and middle grade fiction.

Her debut young adult novel, WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, received six starred reviews, as well as the Oregon Spirit Book Award for debut fiction, and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award runner up honor for debut speculative fiction. It has been featured on Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and O by Oprah Magazine’s best books lists, and was a 2019 book of the year selection by Kirkus and School Library Journal. Its sequel, WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM, followed to continuing acclaim, while MISS METEOR (co-written with National Book Award Nominee Anna-Marie McLemore) was named to the American Library Association’s 2021 Rainbow List, honoring outstanding contributions in LGBTQIA teen fiction.

Tehlor’s debut middle grade novel, PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE RIVER OF TEARS, was published by the Rick Riordan Presents imprint at Disney/Hyperion. It received four starred reviews, and was named Amazon’s best book of 2020 in the 9-12 age range. It is currently in development at Disney as a television series to be produced by Eva Longoria.

Tehlor lives with her daughter, partner, and two small dogs in Oregon, where she grows heirloom corn and continues her quest to perfect the vegan tamale. She is active on Twitter and Instagram @tehlorkay.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

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