❈ I received a copy of this book for review through Rich in Variety Blog Tours❈
Title: Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story #1)
Author: Lucina Stone
Release Date: January 11th 2016
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Folklore, Science Fiction
Content Warning: Racism, Suicide, Sexual Assault
THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a “boy of color.” Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as “Danny,” and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms.
And then she meets Daphne—an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne’s father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They’re running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough.
But her solar powered smart phone works. And there’s someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I’m Lain. Who the f— are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can’t be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya—the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man’s three-piece suit like no woman he’s ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don’t get Lain started….
Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela’s true identity….
Important Update 2/26/17: Recently someone pointed out the problematic aspects of this book. I encourage reading their review before even considering reading Santa Muerte. Please read this review over on Goodreads before proceeding.
For me, Santa Muerte was a mixed bag. There were some aspects of the story that I loved, but there were also some aspects of the story that I was not totally sold on. Overall, Santa Muerte was an enjoyable read. I saw a lot of potential in the setting and characters, and hope that the next installment of the series lives up to it all the aspects it has going for it.
Santa Muerte had a lot going on. Plot wise there were a ton of different elements mixed into the story. At times, this was both a blessing and a curse.
The setting of Santa Muerte was very much an assortment of elements from a lot of different genres. There’s time travel and robots, but there’s also witches, grave robbing, and realm hopping along with a mixture of Mexican folklore. The combination was ambitious. While I liked the bare bones of the worldbuilding, the execution wasn’t quite there. Because of the shortness of Santa Muerte, there simply was not enough content or time to build up the complex setting. The technological/futuristic aspect of Santa Muerte suffered the most because of this and the fact that most of the story takes place in the past.
Since the story relies on Daniela not knowing her heritage in regards to being a witch or her coven’s practices, we are left in the dark for the majority of the story. Even when the point of view switched, there were a lot of other characters who were not in the know. To some extent, this was to show that the characters did not know what was going on and to keep the readers in the dark. However, this made it hard to understand exactly how the world functions in Santa Muerte, and when we are given some information it is from characters who are very knowledgable and don’t give much explanation. Personally, I am not familiar with Mexican Folklore. I really wish I was going into Santa Muerte because I couldn’t tell which aspects were rooted in Mexican Folklore or the creation of the author.
When I first started Santa Muerte I thought it was going to be a relatively simple story with Folklore and fantasy mixed in. To some degree, I was right about that, but I definitely was not expecting such a large cast of characters and points of view. Juggling alternating points of view with characters in different settings is a difficult task, but the potential is great and I personally love a wide cast of POV characters. Unfortunately, the large cast made it hard to keep up with the story. Santa Muerte moves at an incredibly fast pace, and because of that we are thrown between point of views from different characters in different time periods and different countries. That combined with the world building, which wasn’t always clear cut, made it hard to keep track of everything going on. At times, it felt like there were clashing storylines.
Also, I felt like the addition of so many POV characters detracted from the story’s focus on Daniela, the main character. The series is called ‘The Daniela Story’, but I didn’t really see her story shinning through. Sure, the other character’s motivations and storylines rely on her, but Daniela didn’t feel like she had the staring role. There were also some aspects of the plot that caused Daniela to take more of a backseat role.That being said, I hope and expect that to change in the next book. By the end of Santa Muerte, Daniela underwent a lot of character development and has more agency than before.
One of the standout things that I liked about Santa Muerte was the generational conflicts. I adore stories that have a cast of characters from different generations, especially those that involve family members that are apart of different generations. In Santa Muerte, we get to see Daniela along with her mother and grandmother.The family dynamics were great. I really enjoyed how each of their storylines played into each other. It was cool to see how the actions of each generation in the family impacted the other generations.