There’s a comforting familiarity to Romina Garber’s Lobizona (Wednesday Books, 2020) – there is an elite school for magical beings and a sporting event, and these magical beings walk the world unbeknownst to but a few humans. But the world Garber created, the way she blends Argentinian folklore with the realities of the undocumented in the US, breathes a new life and has new layers – it just hits differently.
Manu is an undocumented teen from Argentina. She’s lived in Miami for most of her life with her mother. She’s been told that her father’s family are not good people, and they are looking for her. As she has distinctive eyes, she wears sunglasses any time she exits her home to help make herself invisible from those who would do her harm. In addition to being on the run from her father’s dangerous family, Manu and her mother are in the United States illegally. As such, they live in constant fear of ICE and raids.
But Manu isn’t just some undocumented kid from Argentina. She’s a halfling; half of her being belongs in a world that she’s only dreamed about. After her mother is picked up by ICE and she’s left to her own devices, she learns that her mom wasn’t hiding her from some Argentinian drug lord – she was hiding her from a world where women are brujas and men are lobizones. A magical world full of wonder that would want her dead if they knew with certainty of her existence. The penalty for mating with a human? Death. Any child born of such a union also faces the same sentence. That is why her mother had run. That is why her father had disappeared.
In a twist, Manu finds herself at the elite school. She’s undocumented in America and undocumented there, and a plan is hatched to purchase falsified documents to help hide her true identity as half-human. She makes friends who risk everything for her. She falls in love. She joins a sporting team. She’d been denied friends for so long because of a life lived in the shadows that she flourishes among people her own age. Manu is finally able to embrace the side of her that had been kept dormant with a special drug for so long.
But Manu isn’t a bruja – she’s a Lobizona, making her even more of an oddity in the magical world as women are witches and men are the werewolves.
Lobizona is the first of the Wolves of No World series, and I’ve already placed a library hold on Cazadora (Wednesday Books, 2021) because I must find out what happens to Manu.
Read this book.