Nocturna book review!! // original magic paired with a predictable plotline

Hi friends! I’m really excited to share my review for Nocturna, which I read with the Dragons and Tea Book Club for the month of September, for Latinx Heritage Month!

TW/CW: blood, murder, slavery, abuse (physical and verbal)

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks. As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

well, that was a whirlwind.

I actually had totally forgotten what Nocturna was about. However, I was pleasantly surprised in several aspects and not so much in others. But first, the good!

The magic system was surprisingly amazing. It wasn’t so much that it was detailed, or complex in any way. I mostly loved how individual it was. Every person’s magic is different, a part of them, unique in every way. It made for so many special interactions between people, and the different forms of magic. There was one card game in particular that showed the true complexities of it all.

I also really liked Finn and Alfie and Luka’s characters. The banter was cracking me up! Plus, the character development??? I was so here for it! As the story progressed, we got to see so many different layers unravel. Finn especially struggled so much within herself, and I got so many emotions watching how the way Alfie treated her changed the way she saw the world, but most importantly, herself.

“He hadn’t seen her as something to bend into whatever shape would better serve him.

He’d seen her as a person. A person who said no.”

Are they some of my all-time favorites? No. Were they good characters with plenty of potential? Yes!

I really, really loved how the author discussed colonialism and slavery, and the effects it had on the world she’d created. It felt very thoughtfully done. I’m not OwnVoices Latinx, so I can’t say anything coming from that place, but personally, I adored the Latinx aspects. It felt as if the world was created around Latinx culture, and not as if it had become a world of Latinx culture if that makes sense.

My biggest problem with this book is just how…basic it feels??? The whole “quest to save the world” has kinda grown old for me. Especially when it feels so linear. I mean, this was enjoyable. I had a good time listening to this! However, it’s just another YA book. Same big overdone plotline, and slightly generic yet likable characters. None of this makes Nocturna bad, or not worth reading. It just means (at least for me) that it was a bit of a struggle at times to care.

So that’s it! Tell me if you’ve read this or if its on your TBR!

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