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Maya and the Rising Dark

(Maya and the Rising Dark #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 22nd 2020 by Clarion Books
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Melissa It is not, but it is written in a similar style and for the same audience!

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  985 ratings  ·  254 reviews

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Jade Ratley
Thank you to Netgalley for the earc of this one!

I had a real fun time on Maya’s journey. Maya is a 12 year old girl, when on the search for her missing father she finds herself in the middle of a war between two sides of the world - the Orishas and the Darkbringers. It was great to read a middle grade with African mythology, as this is definitely not something I’ve read before!

When putting this through CAWPILE (the rating system I use) this came out at an overall score of 6.71, which is a high 3
The Nerd Daily
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G

Maya and the Rising Dark is a fun, action-packed adventure story based on West African mythology. Twelve-year old Maya has always dismissed her papa’s adventure stories as bizarre and unreal, but when she begins to notice creatures straight out of those stories around her neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago whom apparently nobody else sees, Maya tells her friends Eli and Frankie about them, and the trio starts looking for an expla
Drew's ambitious reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ms. Woc Reader
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fantasy
This Middle Grade fantasy kicks off with school ending for the summer. Maya is excited to be done with school and looking forward to finally being able to attend Comic Con this summer with her father. But then strange things start happening that she can't ignore. And she discovers a big family secret. Her father is an orisha and a guardian of a veil between their world and a dark world. And there are several orisha living in her community watching over her and her friends. But the worst comes wh ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-fiction
This book is just fantastically fun and full of characters I adored, starting with brave, loyal Maya herself and very much including her two beautifully geeky best friends, Frankie and Eli, her parents, her teachers, her cranky neighbors, and absolutely all of her beloved neighborhood, which feels so warm and vivid and real. (There's also lots of nice casual diversity, like the fact that Frankie happens to have two moms, the school principal uses the "they" and "them" pronouns, etc.) I loved the ...more
Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade book full of action, adventure and magic.

Twelve year old Maya seems like your average girl. All she wants to do is to go to Comic Con and spend time enjoying the summer with her two besties Eli and Frankie. That is until she starts seeing things. Things she cannot explain but scare her very much. Then her father goes missing. While trying to find him she learns that he is the Orisha Elegua who holds the keys between worlds. Apparently the veil that sep
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maya and the Rising Dark

📚 𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀! Whenever I am in a reading slump, I always turn to a middle-grade book to boost it back up. 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸 by Rena Barron did just that! What an exciting new adventure with strong characters and unlimited action! This is an exhilarating read from the first page to the last. Twelve-year-old Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli discover that there is more than what meets the eyes when it comes to their lives. Together they need to face many dangers and brave darknes
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myth-ish, read-2020
I really enjoy Rena Barron's writing style. This story really was one that I could not put down. ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun and fast-paced read! It fits the same niche as the Rick Riordan Presents books in that it's an #ownvoices middle grade story about cultural mythology coming to life, so if you enjoy those books, you will definitely be a fan of this one as well.

What really stood out to me about this story is that it's a clever twist on The Chosen One trope. I don't want to say too much, but Maya is *not* the only characters with powers, and in fact she's part of an incredible community that knows al
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
It absolutely kills me to give any diverse book a low rating, and I specifically stuck with this one in the hopes that by the end it would turn around, but somehow the climax just managed to solidify my feelings. This book feels like it was written without an outline, and then just... left that way. Foreshadowing is more or less thrown out, characters have ten different possible arcs with no follow-through, huge chunks of the story are pretty much meaningless, the story's 'theme' is contemplated ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifteenth read for #believathon! (back in november, but I'd forgot to update this, oops)

This is like Percy Jackson, but with a POC cast and yoruba mythology!! I love it. It was non stop action. Oh! And for once I loved to see the MC talking about the destiny or possible death of the beigns they kill in self defence, about the morally of it all. and about how gray the "heroes" were.
Highly recommend!
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ownvoices
Vid review will be available here on October, 21, 2020 ...more
Nicole M. Hewitt
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Maya and the Rising Dark is a fantastical adventure based in African Mythology. Maya has always loved her dad’s stories of the Orishas and other magical creatures, but she never thought for a minute that they might all be real. So, she’s in for a big surprise when the Lord of Shadows starts appearing in her dreams and hinting at her father’s true identity—he is the guardian of the veil, the only thing keeping the Darkb
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I absolutely loved everything about this book. Such an enticing tale of Maya and the dreams she has been having that she first thinks of messages from her family especially her papa. Later on she realizes that these visual dreams might mean more to her than she thinks and might be
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic fantasy! Maya embarks on a quest to save her missing dad. As she learns about this magical world that was brought upon her, she uncovers that she is half orisha, half human, as are her friends. Together they journey through wormholes, battling darkbringers to rescue her dad and repair the world. I loved the message of friends battling by your side & uncovering your hidden strengths.
May 05, 2021 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this one, and it's ok, but I just couldn't get invested. I think younger middle grade student's will enjoy it, but the writing, characters, and narrative, don't translate up far in age range. It just has narrower age appeal than I prefer, and I don't think it will read as well for older middle grade students. ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly a super fun and lovely middle grade read! This had everything you need - adventure, myths, super powers, friendship, family, and a great bad guy! I also found the West African influences beautifully done and well explained for an audience (like me) that might not be as familiar with them.

There are some lovely quiet nods to Percy Jackson, but this easily stands on it’s own two feet.

Maya is a great lead, and I also adore her two friends, Eli and Frankie. We get some quick backstory on the
This book is ADORABLE. The writing drew me in right away—light and easy to read. I could feel the love Maya had for her family and them for her, and her friends as well. All of the characters felt real and complicated. I loved Maya's voice, and I loved her coming into her strength. I loved the Comic-Con references and I love the idea of parallel universes and secrets in our world right under our noses. In this case, the Dark, which is like a flip turned upside down version of our world.

I love w
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-love
Magical and fast paced, Maya and the Rising Dark doesn't beat around the bush and throws the reader right into the action.

It is beautifully written and jam packed with adventure, self discovery and the love that comes from friends and family. I adore the way that Rena really draws her readers into the world, and paints it's history with such vivid imagery.

For fans of magical realism, ancient African gods and loyal friend groups - Maya and the Rising Dark is for you!
LOVED this book. Maybe I am a bit partial to it, because I read it aloud for a library program. But it had all the elements I love. Mythology, humor, great characters... Definitely highly recommend and can't wait for the next book in the series! ...more
Al Pascall
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2020 rated it liked it
A mythology based middle grade? Sign me up. And publishing on my birthday?? Just an extra reason to read it . . .

Rena Barron's MAYA AND THE RISING DARK is an excitable and enjoyable read, featuring West African Mythology and a cast of wonderful characters.

The novel follows the titular character Maya, and her best friends Frankie and Eli as they venture in to the Dark to face the villainous Lord of Shadows and to save her Papa. The friendship between Maya, Frankie and Eli was the best part of t
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-2020
You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here.

Many thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced waaaaay back last year. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s clearly not in my arsenal of tools, okay? So I was super excited to be able to read this eARC.

Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade fantasy adventure perfect for readers who want Rick Rior
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was ok

Okay, before we begin I feel as if I should tell you that I adored Rena's debut, and so I had very hype hopes with this book because, as already stated, I loved her debut and I also just adore middle-grade. But this was not it.

Before my blood begins to boil at an unhealthy level, let me say that this middle-grade was very similar to The Serpent's Secret and The Lightning Thief , and seeing how it was very similar, I think it's fair to say that this was a horrib
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron, 291 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. $16.99.

Content: Language: G (0 swears, 0“f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13



Maya is a twelve year old girl in the South Side of Chicago who loves the fantasy stories in her comics. She has grown up with her father sharing fantastical stories of legendary creatures and African Spirits who created the universe, the Orishas. She has a strange experience
Karah Sutton
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A thrilling adventure filled with monsters, magic, family, and friendship. Maya's world turns upside down when she learns astonishing truths that have been hidden from her: orishas — celestial beings of African lore and the stars of Maya's favorite comic books — are real; the orishas protect Earth from the darkbringers, who live in a dimension separated from her world by an invisible veil; the veil is tearing, and Maya's father is the only one who can fix it. These revelations set the stage for ...more
Lovely book with a capable, young MC! Maya gets sad and feels beat down often (of course, with these heavy circumstances), but she's got a righteous determination. I loved the cranky granny twins, but Frankie and Eli were a bit bland. I would love to see them more fleshed out in a sequel. The plot feels slowwww at times, but ultimately I recommend this book for any young fantasy-lover.

SN: The cover's by GDBee. My god, I love all her artwork ❤❤❤

Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
DNF @ 18%

I felt like the exposition and Maya's denial just kept dragging on too long, given that we the readers do know that the stories are true; the whole I'm 12, I'm not a baby shtick got old fast as well. And the action sequences were very play-by-play, which I didn't really enjoy. So this one's not really for me, but then I'm not part of the target audience so take my opinions with a grain of salt.
Oh my goodness I really loved this book! Maya and the Rising Dark was a fresh, original story with much black girl magic goodness and the power of one’s roots.

Maya is a comic book nerd who loves her family, friends, neighborhood and city. I liked the close, loving relationship Maya has with her father. She is willing to go the distance to rescue him and stop darkbringers and the Lord of Shadows from invading and destroying the human world. She’s a relatable kid, bighearted, and impulsive yet und
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Maya and the Rising Dark, first in a new middle-grade series by Rena Barron (Kingdom of Souls, gives us Maya, a middle-grade student living on the South Side of Chicago, who starts noticing some odd things in her classroom and gym at her school. She and her friends Eli and Frankie also encounter the neighborhood's bullies, who just aren't acting like themselves. Soon enough they are caught in the dark with some pretty scary werehyenas and have to be rescued by... the twin old ladies who live dow ...more
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Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French ...more

Other books in the series

Maya and the Rising Dark (3 books)
  • Maya and the Return of the Godlings (Maya and the Rising Dark, #2)
  • Untitled (Maya and the Rising Dark, #3)

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