Review: Sun of Blood and Ruin by Mariely Lares


In sixteenth-century New Spain, witchcraft is punishable by death, indigenous temples have been destroyed, and tales of mythical creatures that once roamed the land have become whispers in the night. Hidden behind a mask, Pantera uses her magic and legendary swordplay skills to fight the tyranny of Spanish rule.

To all who know her, Leonora de Las Casas Tlazohtzin never leaves the palace and is promised to the heir of the Spanish throne. The respectable, law-abiding Lady Leonora faints at the sight of blood and would rather be caught dead than meddle in court affairs.

No one suspects that Leonora and Pantera are the same person. Leonora’s charade is tragically good, and with magic running through her veins, she is nearly invincible. Nearly. Despite her mastery, she is destined to die young in battle, as predicted by a seer.

When an ancient prophecy of destruction threatens to come true, Leonora–and therefore Pantera–is forced to decide: surrender the mask or fight to the end. Knowing she is doomed to a short life, she is tempted to take the former option. But the legendary Pantera is destined for more than an early grave, and once she discovers the truth of her origins, not even death will stop her.


When I first read the book blurb of Sun of Blood and Ruin by Mariely Lares I was extremely excited. My knowledge of Mesoamerican mythology and the historical events surrounding the Spanish colonization in South America is rather limited, thus making this novel a promising avenue for discovery. Additionally, I had yet to encounter a reimagining of the legendary character Zorro in my reading endeavors. However, as I delved into the pages of Blood and Ruin, I gradually realized that the book failed to meet my expectations. I do understand Mariely Lares is a debut author, and my intention is not to dissuade her from writing but to provide constructive criticism. I really tried my best to keep on reading but at around 30% into the book I lost all interest and decided to put it down for good. Therefore my review is based on what I encountered in that portion of the book.

Foremost, I must acknowledge and appreciate Lares’ endeavor to illuminate the realm of Mesoamerican mythology and to initiate discussions regarding the profound impact of colonization on a nation. I found great pleasure in immersing myself in the portrayal of diverse deities and the exploration of various customs indigenous to South America.

However, I found the world building to be severely lacking. The quality of the writing did not align with my anticipated standards. The dialogue felt disjointed and lacked conviction. The chemistry between the romantic leads was tepid at best. Moreover, the narrative progression felt peculiar, and up to the point where I stopped reading, I struggled to discern a coherent plot. Magic system wasn’t cohesive either.

Additionally, I was unable to find substantial evidence to support the notion that Pantera, as portrayed by the author, was a formidable and awe-inspiring vigilante who selflessly aided those in distress. Despite the author’s claims of her extensive ten-year training in the jungle, Pantera’s actions seemed rather inept, inexperienced, and lacking in knowledge. This portrayal left me with the impression that she was somewhat clumsy, naive, and ignorant, failing to fulfill the expectations set by her character’s background and purported abilities.

These were among the significant flaws I encountered, along with various other minor issues, during reading the book. Based on these observations, I have decided to give a two-star rating. It is worth noting that I appreciate Mariely Lares’ efforts as a debut author to bring attention to Mesoamerican culture and mythology within the realm of literature. I extend my sincere gratitude to NetGalley, Avon, Harper Voyager, and Mariely Lares for providing me with an advance copy of Sun of Blood and Ruin.


Book Cover

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