Hello Gemmies! I have an exciting book review to share with you today. Please note: I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera is a modern Latinx retelling of the Orpheaus and Eurydice myth. This was such an enjoyable read and one that I never knew I needed! I love this absolute unique take on the tragic myth with diverse characters. Never Look Back is set mostly in The Bronx, New York with additional scenes set in Puerto Rico. Being a Puerto Rican who was born and raised in the Bronx, I can tell you this book felt so authentic. From buying coquitos from a street vendor, to shopping on Fordham Road, to hanging at Orchard Beach. This is a love letter to the island of Puerto Rico, its resilient people, and an ode to growing up Latinx in the Bronx. Never look Back is a coming of age urban epic fantasy all mixed into one!
Lilliam Rivera has created an incredibly detailed and rich world with a complex magical system in an urban setting. Her descriptions are so vivid I can picture each location and creature. Never Look Back has moments of action wrapped in the mystical, But it is more than that, it is also an extremely well written character driven story. I experienced moments of joy, anguish, and grief with our two main protagonists Eury and Pheus. This is a love story but it is also a precautionary tale on being patient, keeping your faith, and believing in yourself. We are introduced to a diverse cast of secondary characters as this tale unfolds and I wish we learned more about some of them, especially Pheus' father and Ato. Having more background information on them would have added more depth to the fantasy aspect of the story. All in all this is a well developed thought out and unique story!
If you are a fan of slow burn fantasies, urban settings, magic, and complicated relationships then go read this book! This gem published by Bloomsbury YA is available for pre-order from all major booksellers and set to release September 1, 2020. I give Never Look Back 4 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait for this book to be out in the universe for all to read! Happy Reading!