Review of The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía
by Alexandra Alessandri
Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    224 pp.
2/23    9781665917056    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781665917070    $10.99

As a young girl, Valentina loved the Colombian legends her father told about the magical creatures inhabiting their country. Now that she’s twelve (“almost thirteen”), however, she finds the stories childish fantasies, and she’s less than thrilled when her father brings her and her younger brother on an expedition into the Andean jungle to investigate a sighting of a mythical female vampire-like creature. Valentina dreams of attending the Bogotá Academy of Arts, and she’d prefer to stay at home and work on her drawing portfolio. When a massive earthquake hits the jungle, the siblings fall into a deep crevice that leads to an alternate world—one that mirrors theirs but is inhabited by mythical beings. To get home, the two must travel through the magical land and beg Madremonte, the mother and protector of Earth, to help them. The only problem is that Madremonte hates humans and will stop at nothing to eliminate them from her realm. Alessandri embeds Colombian folklore into a thrilling tale that centers sibling relationships, eco-justice, border crossing, and intergenerational family wounds. Readers who love mythology, adventure, and suspense will root for Valentina as she embarks on her hero’s journey.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

S. R. Toliver

S. R. Toliver is an assistant professor of literacy and secondary humanities at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her public and academic scholarship can be found on her website Follow her on Twitter @SR_Toliver.

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