Tag: Lost

Shannon reviews Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost is the first book in Zoraida Cordova’s captivating young adult series entitled Brooklyn Brujas, and it’s one I didn’t expect to fall head over heals for. In 2019, I picked the book up, but couldn’t seem to concentrate on the story. I eventually put it down, deciding it just wasn’t the book for me at that particular point in time. I went on and read other things until the fall of 2020, when I decided to give it another chance. The second time really was the charm, because the story grabbed me right from the start, and I ended up flying through the book in a little over twenty-four hours.

Alex can’t think of anything she dislikes as much as she dislikes magic. To her, it’s at the root of all of her family’s problems, and no matter how often her mother and older sister remind her of the honor that goes along with being a bruja, Alex just wants to get rid of her powers and live a normal life.

She thinks her Deathday celebration is the perfect opportunity to decline her magical abilities once and for all. True, most brujas look forward to their Deathdays, reuniting with deceased ancestors and honoring the deities who gifted them their powers, but Alex has a totally different plan. Instead of acknowledging and being grateful for her magical gifts, Alex plans to work a powerful spell to banish magic from her life forever.

As I’m sure you can imagine, things don’t go quite the way Alex anticipated. Suddenly, her family has disappeared seemingly into thin air, leaving Alex alone with Nova, a mysterious Brujo she’s not sure she can trust. He’s been kind to her in the past, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right person to help her reverse the harm she’s done. Still, she’s desperate to rescue her family from what has befallen them, and when Nova tells her he knows how to free them, she reluctantly joins forces with him and embarks on a quest that will change her in ways she never could have imagined.

Alex is a wonderfully complex heroine, with her fair share of flaws and idiosyncrasies. I sometimes found myself annoyed with her tendency for drama, but she does grow and change as the story progresses. The author does a fantastic job giving the reader just enough insight into who Alex is as a person without ruining the story arc. Her complicated relationship with her family feels completely relatable as does the uncertainty she feels about her sexuality.

Alex’s sexuality isn’t the main point of the novel, but it is an important element of her need to be accepted for exactly who she is. She’s known she was bisexual for quite a while, but she’s never been sure how to tell her family how she feels. She’s constantly torn between doing what she thinks is expected of her and being true to herself. You might think this sort of inner conflict would take away from the action and adventure of this fantasy novel, but it doesn’t do so at all. Instead, it adds an element of realism to the story, highlighting Alex’s struggle to fit into multiple worlds.

I didn’t end up loving Nova as a character. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way as soon as he appeared on the page. At first, I wondered if it was just because Alex herself wasn’t sure she could trust him, but as I continued reading, he started to fall the slightest bit flat for me. I wanted a better understanding of his motivations, and although some of my questions about him were eventually answered in the second half of the book, it felt like a case of too little too late. Even so, Labyrinth Lost has much to recommend it, and I definitely plan to continue with the series.

Lost letters reveal JM Barrie said ‘I love you’ to Robert Louis Stevenson

Lost letters reveal JM Barrie said 'I love you' to Robert Louis Stevenson

J.M. Barrie writing letters to his great friend Robert Louis Stevenson at his desk in Adelphi Terrace House. (Sotheby’s via Getty Images)

Never-seen-before letters reveal JM Barrie telling Robert Louis Stevenson “I have discovered that I love you” – and the only possible explanation is that they were “the greatest of friends”.

It’s the first time that the letters from Peter Pan author Barrie to Stevenson have been read, after they were discovered in a dusty box of letters in an archive at Yale University.

The pair started writing to each other in 1892; they were both Scottish, but Stevenson, who was older and had already published Treasure Island when they began talking, lived on the island of Samoa to improve his health.

A year into their friendship, Barrie wrote to him: “To be blunt I have discovered (have suspected it for some time) that I love you, and if you had been a woman…” The rest of the sentence is unfinished.

After Stevenson died in 1894, his letters to JM Barrie were published. But Barrie’s side of the correspondence has been lost for more than a century. His letters, some of which run to 3,000 words long, include a declaration of love, wishing that he would meet Stevenson (the two never did meet), and fantasising that the pair were actually distantly related in order to open up to Stevenson about his close relationship with his mother.

Sounds to us exactly like the letters two heterosexual men would write to each other. Dr Michael Shaw, the University of Stirling lecturer who discovered the new letters and will soon publish a book about them called A Friendship in Letters, told the Observer that the friendship between Barrie and Stevenson had inspired Peter Pan.

“What’s revealed in these letters – and it took me a while to discover the full extent of this – is the influence that both Stevenson and the correspondence have on Barrie,” said Shaw. “In reading over Barrie’s works, I started to see allusions to the letters and to Stevenson that I hadn’t noticed before.

“He’s incorporating aspects of the correspondence into his own works, into his poetry and novels, and their friendship is also inspiring his works.

“I think what JM Barrie is saying is: if I can never meet Stevenson, because he has unfortunately died, then I want to create the opportunity for our characters to meet.

“I think he liked that idea that they could occupy the same world, and could potentially bump into each other.”

While we will never know what Barrie’s intentions were, with the declarations of love and everything, gay Twitter did not hesitate to recognise the queer yearning nor claim the literary pair as a historical gay romance.

“Victorian male author writer to Victoria male author ‘I want to fuck you’ (in Victorian),” one Twitter user wrote. “‘Deep respect’ is one way of putting it, I suppose.”

“Let people be queer,” another added.

It is not the first time that LGBT+ history has been erased from under our noses.

Last year, two ancient Roman skeletons that had been buried holding hands and were nicknamed the “Lovers of Modena’” were downgraded to “siblings or cousins or soldiers who died together in battle” once archaeologists discovered that both the skeletons were men.

And scientists were baffled again last year, when they realised there was a “female” skeleton in a historically all-male monastic republic in Greece.

Researchers were stumped. How could a “female” have gotten into the byzantine chapel?

Yet again, it took a number of Twitter users to point out that trans people have existed throughout history and the possibility that the person was trans should not be crossed out.