Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.
When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.
AMAZING. This book was absolutely amazing, start to finish, it was one of the best reads the spawn and I have had.
Okay, gushing aside, let’s see if I can get a proper review out.
Maya was a fantastic MC, she was vibrant and alive and she was so real that it’s hard to imagine that she’s not out there right now reading comics and practicing staff with her father.
That was another thing, I am always overjoyed when a book has a healthy and loving relationship between daughters and fathers, and this one had a brilliant one as well as a great relationship between Maya and her mom as well.
Barron’s writing style is so engaging in her MG debut (and so different from Kingdom of Souls) every single chapter was exciting in its own right and every single chapter that we finished, the spawn begged me to keep going.
The godlings was such a great take and I think that the way the mythology was meshed in was a great take of world-building, and I love that the setting was Chicago! I’ve had enough books dealing with magical schools or New York or even London, gimme a neighborhood in Chicago where even your cranky old neighbors could be powerful beings! (Or are they just super cranky? Who knows! I do but I’m not telling!)
Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli made up a great trio, they were uncomplicated in their friendship, if one of them was in trouble, they helped, that was it, and I thought that was beautiful in a way, something that’s so important to show kids; help should be freely given especially to your friends anyway. Not to mention they were helping to save Maya’s dad so that not only meant adventures into the possible unknown but a quest worthy of any hero.
Again, the magic and lore blew me away, I loved that not all godlings had powers, I love that godlings and Orishas had such special roles and had such a strong community as well. Multiple communities even!
That staff ended up playing a much larger role than I thought and I love that it was a bit of a connection to Maya and her Dad but not only that, it also served to teach Maya a few lessons, and one very important one too.
We worried for Maya and her friends and family, we were thrilled with the Dark and all that was in it, the darkbringers, the differences in their world and ours and of course the Lord of Shadows who made an excellent and complicated antagonist.
The ending was super satisfying and still set us up to be quite impatient for book two! Spawn and I just adored this book from start to finish, great character development, world-building, magic system, lore/mythology, and pacing!
5/5 huge cups of coffee from spawn and I both, thank you so much to the publishers for an ARC of this in exchange for our honest review (spawn and I both in this case) and I am so sorry for the delay in this review. Maya is out in the world so please go buy. it if you like and get the chance.
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