Toronto Book Review

18

SUN OF BLOOD AND RUIN BY MARIELY LARES

In an alternate version of Mexico, decades after the conquest by Cortés, a gender-swapped Zorro figure grapples with her identity and magical abilities.

Lady Leonora, born to the late viceroy of New Spain and a Nahua woman, finds herself thrust into a world of gods and sorcery as a child. Trained in martial arts and gifted with the power to shapeshift into a panther, she takes on the mantle of Pantera after being expelled from the realm of Tamoanchan. With her newfound abilities, she fights alongside the Nahua against Spanish oppression.

However, her life takes a complicated turn when she is betrothed to Prince Felipe of Spain and encounters Andrés de Ayeta, a Nahua man aligned with the Spanish forces. As secrets unravel and tensions rise between the Nahua rebels and the Spanish, Leonora must navigate her loyalties and determine her place in the conflict.

While the story draws inspiration from the Zorro legend, it ventures into original territory by exploring Leonora’s internal struggles and the complexities of her relationships. Pantera serves as a symbol of her identity crisis and a catalyst for conflict, highlighting the consequences of secrecy and mistakes in a hostile world.

Despite the fantastical elements, Leonora emerges as a relatable and believable character, making the narrative a compelling blend of fantasy and historical fiction. The novel offers a gripping coming-of-age tale intertwined with the rich mythology of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.

Overall, “Lady Leonora and the Legend of Pantera” is a captivating journey that delves into themes of identity, loyalty, and the pursuit of justice in a tumultuous era.

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