I loved reading Bindle Punk Bruja by Desideria Mesa, especially during the spooky season.
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Voyager US
Format I read it in: Uncorrected Proof, Paperback
A part-time reporter and club owner takes on crooked city councilmen, mysterious and deadly mobsters, and society’s deeply rooted sexism and racism, all while keeping her true identity and magical abilities hidden –inspired by an ancient Mexican folktale.
Yo soy quien soy. I am who I am.
Luna–or depending on who’s asking, Rose–is the white-passing daughter of an immigrant mother who has seen what happens to people from her culture. This world is prejudicial, and she must hide her identity in pursuit of owning an illegal jazz club. Using her cunning powers, Rose negotiates with dangerous criminals as she climbs up Kansas City’s bootlegging ladder. Luna, however, runs the risk of losing everything if the crooked city councilmen and ruthless mobsters discover her ties to an immigrant boxcar community that secretly houses witches. Last thing she wants is to put her entire family in danger.
But this bruja with ever-growing magical abilities can never resist a good fight. With her new identity, Rose, an unabashed flapper, defies societal expectations all the while struggling to keep her true self and witchcraft in check. However, the harder she tries to avoid scrutiny, the more her efforts eventually capture unwanted attention. Soon, she finds herself surrounded by greed and every brand of bigotry–from local gangsters who want a piece of the action and businessmen who hate her diverse staff to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Capone. Will her earth magic be enough to save her friends and family? As much as she hates to admit it, she may need to learn to have faith in others–and learning to trust may prove to be her biggest ambition yet.
Luna / Rose is a character I loved so much. Even now, a month after reading the book, she still holds a very special place in my heart. It’s quite shocking that if I wasn’t aware this is a historical fantasy, I would have thought it’s a contemporary fiction. That shows the issues we are still having in the world when it comes to prejudice. Sure, it struck me as very off that Luna had to hide her hispanic roots and marry to be able to own a jazz club and succeed in her business life, but it didn’t seem impossible. I’ve heard things and I’ve met people who I know would be capable of this. And despite everything, Luna was able to shine her own light, write her own story, live her own life as she wants, adding her sprinkle of family magic to the world. Speaking of magic, I really enjoyed that fantastical element. It added a lift to the book in its own way.
“The promise of a greater future without the barriers of corruption carried them forward, though the price of assimilation would steal away at my own identity, my heritage just a whisper on the breezes like the old folklore that we tell. My mother’s recipes and my own native language fade every day that I’m Rose, burying Luna in the earth beneath the riverbeds.”
Quite an important section of the book was Luna’s identity. She is hiding, being Rose and trying to fit into a world that can only accept a portion of her. As I kept reading, Luna started peeling her layers and because her unapologetically herself. And honestly, seeing someone be whoever they want to be is always an incredible moment, and the reason I will always treasure my experience with Bindle Punk Bruja.
“Because there will always be those who will never see who we truly are. But if we waste our energies punishing their ignorance, we will drown in our own bitterness.”
About The Author:
Desi (shockingly) has an eclectic taste, her favorite novels ranging anywhere from Anne of Green Gables and The Help to Mistborn and Ready Player One. Getting lost in a historical, sci-fi, or high fantasy novel will likely be her ultimate demise besides crafting her own stories, of course. Her sassy writing style eventually gained her representation by Rachel Brooks at BookEnds Literary Agency who landed the self-proclaimed pirate a two-book publishing deal with Harper Voyager. Having battled through the query trenches herself, Desi has extensive experience with the querying process, agent research, and manuscripts. Aside from churning out novels, she enjoys writing songs, poetry, and short stories.
Follow @DesideriaMesa on Twitter for writing discussion, slightly inappropriate jokes, and more information on her historical fantasy debut, BINDLE PUNK BRUJA, set to come out in 2022.