The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, by Zoraida Córdova

Orquídea Divina has been keeping her secrets for a long time. Now that she’s about to die, she calls her descendants back to the family ranch (a ranch that appeared just as mysteriously as Orquídea Divina herself did). Most of them come expecting an inheritance of some kind. Three of them, however, just want to know what’s been hidden from them their entire lives. In Zoraida Córdova’s The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, all the chickens come home to roost and Orquídea’s secrets turn out to be as deadly as they are magical.

All Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly—three of Orquídea’s grandchildren—know before they come back to Four Rivers is that Orquídea came from Guayaquil, Ecuador; that she has had five husbands but only speaks about four of them; and that she is able to make things happen that no one else can do. When our three protagonists and their relatives come back home, their plan is to try to finally get Orquídea to tell them about what she left behind…except, Orquídea still refuses to speak. Like she has done all their lives, Orquídea makes Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly figure things out for themselves. When Orquídea dies (in spectacular fashion), she leaves even more mysteries behind. But when Orquídea dies, nothing is stopping her secrets from trying to wipe out her entire family.

At first, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina moves in fits and starts. The day Orquídea dies is wild, full of magic and weirdness. But when Marimar and her cousins start to rebuild, it slows down. It’s only in the second half that things pick up again. It’s a little odd, but the characters, setting, and premise of the book were so interesting that I didn’t mind. I was just as busy as the protagonists were in trying to figure out what the hell was going on with Orquídea. Thankfully, the contemporary part of the story is interwoven with chapters set in Orquídea’s past in Ecuador.

We learn, long before her grandchildren, that Orquídea is the kind of person to seize every opportunity that comes her way. She might not have magic at first, but her gumption and ability to drive a bargain put her on the road to the wondrous and terrible things to come. There are river monsters (gods, thank you very much), living stars, flowers growing from bodies, and lots of wishes that never seem to come out right.

I really enjoyed this magical book.

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