We’re excited to share an excerpt from Wayward Witch, the third novel in Zoraida Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas young adult trilogy. Infused with Latin American tradition—the Brooklyn Brujas series follows three sisters—and witches—as they develop their powers and battle magic in their hometown and worlds beyond. Available September 1st from Sourcebooks Fire.
Rose Mortiz has always been a fixer, but lately she’s been feeling lost. She has brand new powers that she doesn’t understand, and her family is still trying to figure out how to function in the wake of her amnesiac father’s return home. Then, on the night of her Death Day party, Rose discovers her father’s memory loss has been a lie.
As she rushes to his side, the two are ambushed and pulled through a portal to the land of Adas, a fairy realm hidden in the Caribbean Sea. There Rose is forced to work with a group of others to save Adas. Soon, she begins to discover the scope of her powers, the troubling truth about her father’s past, and the sacrifices he made to save her sisters. But if Rose wants to return home so that she can repair her broken family, she must figure out how to heal Adas first.
Claribelle was lost in the forest.
She stepped between two ceiba trees
under the light of the full moon.
A door opened and she walked through it.
—Claribelle and the Kingdom of Adas: Tales Tall and True, Gloriana Palacios
I’m supposed to be the good one. The bruja who studies dusty tomes and respects her magical lineage. The sister who doesn’t trap her family in another dimension or raise an army of heart-chomping zombies. The daughter who doesn’t talk back, flosses twice a day, cleans her altar without being told to, takes out the trash, and recites rezos to the gods before going to bed at midnight. If I were the good one, I wouldn’t be hiding today of all days.
It is, after all, my Deathday and my birthday combined, and like the average fifteen-year-old bruja, I’m spending the party in a hallway pantry, sitting on a crate of Goya beans, with my dress pockets full of chocolate candy bars. A low-hanging light bulb casts a white glow over the open storybook on my lap.
“Have you seen Rose?” My mother asks someone from the other side of the door.
I don’t know who she’s talking to, but they make a noncommittal sound. Ma shouts my name, and I freeze mid-page-turn. After the ceremony, I said I’d go change into party clothes and be right back, and I had every intention of doing so. Mostly. But I started imagining all those people—friends, family, and strangers—wanting to talk to me. To look at me. To wonder why, after fifteen years of being an ordinary bruja I am suddenly so interesting. That’s the word people keep using, at least. Since I don’t have an answer, I decided to put myself in time-out.
When my mom gives up and the hammering tap of heels dissolves into echoes, I breathe a little easier. I flip to my bookmark and sigh. I’ll read one more chapter and then go. I know. I know I can’t stay in here forever.
If you ask me, and no one ever does, it’s too soon to celebrate my freakish new abilities. I mean, one minute, I was a seer, speaking to ghosts and the world beyond the Veil of the living. Now I’m something completely different that no one in my family, our network of brujas, or supernatural allies have ever heard of. There isn’t even a name for it since I’ve forbidden everyone from calling me a “magical hacker.” It’s a miracle our lives haven’t been threatened for a whole six months, so I haven’t had to put my power to the test. Honestly, I’m not so sure my family even wants me to try.
Lula told me to enjoy the moments we get to be normal and danger free, but there’s no “normal” when you’re a bruja. Unlike the rest of the Mortiz family, I can’t pretend like the last year and half hasn’t been filled with monsters and blood and guts and secret societies and more resurrections than I am personally comfortable with. We’ve just accepted Dad’s magical memory loss from the years he was gone. Alex is all One with the Force after she accidentally banished us to Los Lagos. Lula unleashed dead hordes across the city, but no worries, she’s back to her old self again. Ma finally has her family whole and together.
I’m the only one who seems to notice that there is something wrong around here, but every time I work up the nerve to speak, I convince myself that it’s all in my head. Things are peaceful. Things are fine.
Sandals slap against the tiled hallway floor. I recognize the cadence of her walk instantly. I hold in a sneeze brought on by pantry dust as my eldest sister starts yelling for me.
“Rose Elizabeta Mortiz, get your bedazzled butt out here and dance!” Lula manages to walk right past my hiding spot.
I sneeze, and a handful of pink and white petals fall between the pages of my book. The flowers in my ceremonial crown are already wilting. So much for fresh carnations. I’ve tried to undo the braid Lula and Alex artfully twisted around my head with gold twine, but they used so much hairspray and so many bobby pins that I only managed to yank a few strands out by the root. I blow on the petals. They scatter on the blush-pink tulle skirt of my dress, stuffed around my feet.
The door opens, letting in the bright kitchen light and the rhythmic tap of drums from the living room.
Lula purses her lips. There’s a flash of relief in her gray eyes before she shouts, “Found her!”