Pushing the boundaries of paranormal romance, this expertly paced debut trades classic horror creatures for Mesoamerican deities.
Dela’s debut begins by revealing the story’s gods before we meet their human forms. Called Celestials, they’re discussing sacrifices to the gods of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. But the final sacrifice of the apportioned 52, a young virgin named Zara Moss, could fulfill an old prophecy: she might be the one to break the cycle. Lucas, an Aztec demigod with the given name Mulac, vows to find her, save her, and make her his. Meanwhile, Zara is in Lake Tahoe just trying to get through college. One evening, while driving with her best friend, Bri, she blacks out and glimpses an orange-skied world before crashing her car. At school, she encounters the blue-tattooed boy who saved her from the wreck. With his impressive power and staggering wealth, Lucas will save her several more times from the shadows following her. If only she could understand his control issues and his hot-and-cold behavior, she might be able to trust him. But Zara will also have to learn to control her blackouts, or she just might end up the Xibalbans’ final sacrifice. Dela plays fast and loose with the mythologies, blending Aztec and Mayan cultural figures into a single system. It works for her story, even if these appropriations often feel strongly out of step with the spirit of the myths, especially in the novel’s materialism (for instance, one of the Mayan hero twins drives a Porsche and rides Jet Skis). But for readers with a taste for slow-burning romance, Dela’s tight control of the plot and tasteful description of love will likely eclipse these issues.
Complex and intense, an exemplar of the genre.