Title: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Genre: new adult; fantasy; magical realism; dual POV; paranormal; contemporary; horror
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.
Review: 5 stars
There was a lot to love in this book. When I started this book, I was still coming off the high of Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia and wow was I in for a treat. This book captured some of that magical realism and horror that I was jonesing for after MG, but in a completely new and captivating way.
Inheritance is a Dual-POV book and flashes forward and backward in time with Orquidea being one perspective (the past) and Marimar being the other (the present). These perspectives overlap and fill in a lot of the blanks that arise, but it takes some time (about 50 pages or so) to really figure out what’s happening. There is a lot of mystery and unanswered questions until the last 75 pages or so, and I can understand how that might be a turn off for some readers. But I really enjoyed the ride.
Right away, we’re introduced to a TON of characters. All of Orquidea’s descendants. Then even some ghosts from her past. We learn right away that she’s dying and everyone needs to go back to the family homestead to figure out what to do next. Like I said, we meet a TON of people in this instance.
However, Cordova gives us some clues as to the ones we really need to pay attention to: Rey, Tatinelly, and Marimar. While all the other family members are important for various reasons; grudges, hope; music; future plot points, the three that matter are given some space to be introduced. They’re also singled out with flowers / buds growing out of their skin. This includes, after she is born, Rhiannon (Tatinelly’s daughter).
But when Orquidea refuses to answer questions, dies, and then literally turns into a tree that burns down the family house, it gets chaotic. Years pass and lives move on, but there’s this itch that the three main members can’t shake. And then when Rhiannon is like 7, all of the predictions, secrets, and prophecies come back to get them.
Some of the previously introduced family members are killed in mysterious ways (remember, future plot point) and Tati, Rey, and Marimar think they’re being stalked. Everyone comes back to the family house (that Marimar rebuilt over the last few years – she’s the matriarch now) to regroup.
In between all of the present-day stuff, we learn about Orquidea, bastard daughter of the waves, born cursed. Her childhood story is just as appealing as the present-day narrative. We learn that she talked and bartered with a river monster god when she was a child, and then runs off with the circus after being little more than a Cinderella type character with her step-family (and mother).
Along the way, we also learn about Marimar’s family – her mother who died in a drowning accident, mysteriously. Marimar’s goal is to learn more about her father – someone Orquidea refuses to talk about her whole life, even into her death.
Rhiannon can speak to the dead, and the flowers, and kinda everything? She hears Orquidea as a tree and tells the rest that they just need to try harder. Her character is kind of amazing, actually. The childlike wonder that we’re all born with never goes away, and hers is enhanced by the magic of her family – something no one really, truly, understands.
When they travel back to Ecuador to scatter the ashes of one of those dead family members (again, future plot point, remember?) they meet Orquidea’s youngest step sister and learn even more about the quest they’re all on. Tati, Rhiannon, Rey, and Marimar all go. It’s here that their powers (the flowers/buds in their skin) make most sense. It’s also here that they finally learn the secrets of Orquidea Divina and her first love.
Marimar learns more about her father, Tatinelly figures out her power, and all of them figure out how to connect to the tree back in their family home – their grandmother’s essence.
Honestly, I loved this book. I would read any off-shoots that came from this, but I think it was so well-written that I doubt there will be any.