Sunday, June 17, 2007

Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia

Title: Earrings of Ixtumea
Author: Kim Baccellia
Price: $5.95 from publisher, $4.76 through June 30, 2007 on Mobipocket
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-9782157-1-2 (ebook only)
Publisher: Virtual Tales Book Published by Intellectus Enterprises (in association with Virtual Tales)First Edition: June 2007
Point of Sale: Virtual Tales, Mobipocket

Earrings of Ixtumea blends contemporary fantasy, native Mexican mythology, and teenage self discovery. The author, according to her bio:
[W]as a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles County for eight years. As an educator, Kim didn’t find many books for Latinas that were upbeat or dealt with their heritage. During the time she wrote this novel, she was learning about her own Mexican heritage and decided to write a story that a teenage Latina could relate to while also learning about her own rich culture.
The book opens early one morning in the apartment the protagonist, Lupe, shares with her grandmother, her abuela, in Tustin, California. The story immediately introduces you to a glimpse of Lupe's culture with a sprinkling of Spanish, descriptions of the dress, food and the topics of gossip that engage Lupe's grandmother and her friends. This morning they are talking about the prophecy surrounding the savior of Ixtumea, which Lupe overhears.

Lupe is less interested in these tales of "her Mexican ancestors" than she is about her favorite music and getting along at school. As she is leaving for school her grandmother presses a pair of earrings into her hand, insisting she must take them.

Unfortunately for her, she's fated to be a central figure in those ancestral stories and she only makes it as far as the bus stop before she is confronted with the reality of those tales. A vision of Ixtumea comes upon her when one of the girls at the bus stop touches her earrings, sees the same vision of warriors killing innocent people, and faints. Lupe, appalled and ashamed, runs away from the bus stop but soon is confronted by a young man who tells her he is there to escort her to Ixtumea.

Interspersed between these early scenes featuring Lupe, we are introduced to Malvado. He, too, is from modern Los Angeles, but he's somehow come to Ixtumea to find wealth and power through the auspices of the God of the Underworld, Tezcatlipoca, who has promised him not only the kingdom Malvado rules, but godhood, as well. Malvado doesn't simply believe the ancient stories, he's living them, and he knows that Lupe is the key to his ascension.

Of necessity, the author needs to help the reader understand the mythology, describe the people and surroundings of Ixtumea to provide the context of the conflict between Lupe and Malvado. However, I found some of the descriptive passages slowed the pace too much and some of the dialogue, especially that of Malvado and his minions, seemed stilted and a bit one-dimensional. I'm not sure a YA reader would have the patience to persevere through to the more action oriented scenes.

About half way through the book, Lupe encounters Ixchel, a goddess who protects the people of Ixtumea, learns about her mother whom she thought was dead. She struggles against her own feelings of inadequacy, and her confusion about her mother's role in not only Malvado's plot but in her life, as well.

In the end, Lupe ends up a captive of Malvado. He brings her to a ritual altar where he thinks he will be able to sacrifice her and attain his godhood, but instead there is a great battle of powers and Lupe comes into hers (and finally understands the full potential of her earrings) to fulfil her destiny. These final pages are fast moving, for the most part, and do show how Lupe reconciles the stories of her grandmother, her new knowledge and her new ability, to become the force that overcomes the enemies of Ixtumea, as prophesied.

As a first effort for the author, it shows promise. Overall it's a fair read, with some excellent parts, but to really grab the intended audience, I think some work on tighening up the mid-book descriptions and work on dialogue, would be helpful. Also, I'm not sure there's enough said early on about who Lupe is in this world to make her a character the YA audience can relate to before she's carried off into the fantasy world of Ixtumea.


Blogger Kim Baccellia said...


Thanks for taking the time to read Earrings!

1:27 PM  

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