Publication Date: September 7th, 2021
Hardcover. 336 pages.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina was one of those books that I didn't know much about, but when it showed up at my door I knew it was something I had to check out. This is a beautiful story magical realism, culture, family, and it's one that ended up letting me get lost in the dream-like beauty and prose in a way that I haven't in a while. I also feel as though I should point out that this is an adult book, even though the cover does seem a bit like it could go adult or young adult in style.
Orquídea Divina lives in her house in the middle of Four Rivers where her many children and grandchildren have lived, grown up, and moved on. She now has multitudes of descendants, and it is to these descendants that she prepares special invitations to come back to their home in Four Rivers to receive their inheritance. No one is sure exactly what is going on-is Orquídea Divina ill and dying, or is this just some ploy to get them all to Four Rivers? As expected, much of the family shows up, and the story begins.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is filled with colorful characters and unique personalities with a spotlight on three specific perspectives from Marimar ("Mari"), Reymundo ("Rey"), and Tatinelly (whose young daughter also plays a rather large role in this story). Each of these characters has a wonderfully unique personality and perspective on life, and I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into each one's image of their family and childhood with Orquídea. After Orquídea's passing, Mari, Rey, and Tatinelly's daughter are left with some rather strange manifestations on their bodies that embody some form of a magical gift that they haven't quite figured out yet. I won't say too much about this component, but it's done in a very subtle yet momentous way that really adds to the beauty of Córdova's magical realism elements in this book.
This story moves back and forth between present and past in order to tell the story of Orquídea's life from her beginnings in Ecuador to her life in Four Rivers, and I really loved how Córdova wove this story into the larger present day narrative. Orquídea's story intersect beautifully with her grandchildren's stories, although her grandchildren know relatively little about their grandmother's past. As such, they make their own journey to Ecuador in order to uncover more of her past and to put a stop to some mysterious figures that have begun harming their family as a result of their newfound gifts. I loved this visit to Ecuador where the grandchildren are able to learn more not only about their grandmother's past, but also about their own culture and the land in which their family comes from. Córdova has a beautiful connection and her sense of home and passion really shine through in her magical prose.
I loved Córdova's focus on family and culture, and seeing how so many members of this large family are able to come together after years apart and remember who they are and the family they are from. There is, understandably, some tension and disagreement between a number of family members, but at the end of the day there is an overarching sense of family and commitment that I found to be a beautiful sentiment. It was also exciting to see how Córdova honed in on the decisions of Orquídea growing up and how each one contributed to her present day life and to the lives of her descendants, from the big to the small. There's a special magic at play in this family, and I think Córdova did a truly excellent job of seamlessly blending this dreamy magical quality with the realities of modern life, while still holding onto the beauty of one's culture and history and learning how to appreciate and respect your origins.
Overall, I've given The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina 4.5 stars. I had an incredible time on this journey from Zoraida Córdova and am still thinking about how beautiful and dream-like her prose was in this story, and how much meaning and passion this story had. If you are at all interested in magical realism, then I highly recommend you give this book a read.
*I received a copy of The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*