Review Detail

Bruja magic in the Dominican Republic
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Pilar is of Dominican Republic heritage which is a culture not often featured in novels. The story includes language, food, and other cultural details as much of the plot takes place on the island. The antagonists are mythical creatures in the Dominican folklore and a couple of them are returning from imprisonments. Seems like they may want to find a more powerful, magical penal system. The giant evil being resurrected in the plot was considered gone forever until the reality of its return faces the main characters. The conflict finds Pilar and her allies struggling to discover an impossible way to stop the overwhelming power being wielded by a bruja traitor.
Pilar is a bruja, and the dictionary defines that term as a sorcerer. Pilar is able to wield magic but seems more like a warrior-in-training, as her friend Carmen has been teaching her fighting techniques. Pilar is the only person able to see the storm growing over the sea and the truth behind this vision is revealed later. She also has dreams of people she’s never seen in places she’s never been and the meaning of these images becomes clearer as the story moves on. Most of the brujas in the world have died so Pilar may be the most powerful one left. La Bruja seems to be the boss, but she defers to Pilar’s judgment at crucial points in the plot.
The adventure has a good deal of action-packed scenes that will satisfy young readers. Pilar and her friends use magic to conjure weapons against their foes. Machetes are wielded in hand-to-hand combat as some beasts can only be defeated by removing their heads. Powerful storms and devastating winds create a dark, malevolent atmosphere to accentuate the intensity of the characters’ clashes. Pilar uses her magic and special gloves to traverse the city spiderman-style and to maneuver around giant creatures. She later learns that teamwork is a highly effective strategy against their enemies.
What didn’t work as well:
Authors often use vocabulary from other languages to enhance the cultural influence. This book frequently uses insignificant Spanish conjunctions which may distract readers due to over usage. Other Spanish phrases are used more strategically, adding a cultural flair to the events. The vocabulary seems more appropriate and blends into the story better when it’s used in the characters’ dialogue.
The final verdict:
I recommend reading “Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa” before reading this one as many connections are made to past events and characters. The action, suspense, and Dominican folklore should entertain young readers and I recommend you give this book a shot.
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