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Wings of Ebony #1

Wings of Ebony

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“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

354 pages, Hardcover

First published January 26, 2021

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About the author

J. Elle

13 books896 followers
J. ELLE is the New York Times bestselling author of young adult and middle-grade fantasy fiction and a 2022 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth and Teens. Her work has been translated into three languages. The former educator credits her nomadic lifestyle and humble inner-city beginnings as inspiration for her novels. When she’s not writing, Elle can be found on the hunt for new desserts sans Chocolat, looking for literally any excuse to get dressed up, and road-tripping her way across the country with her two dogs in tow.

Follow me on BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/j-elle

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,168 reviews
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
May 6, 2021
This was a really strong and interesting debut! Rue was a great character to follow. She was determined and would do anything to protect her sister and I really appreciated that sisterly bond they had. I loved how headstrong she was. You're kind of thrust right into the story and I found the world building could be kind of confusing at times because of that. However I liked how racism and white supremacy were integrated into the story seamlessly. A lot of important discussions were brought up. Also what we were given of world building did create a really interesting setting for the story. I just wish it had been a bit more clear. The story was a lot different than I was expecting. Given the synopsis I was expecting more gods directly in the story, but maybe that's to come in sequels. The story was a unique mix of contemporary and fantasy, bouncing back and forth between the two worlds often. That made for an interesting dynamic. I did find there were a few conveniences that bugged me. Sometimes things seemed to work out too nicely, like there were a lot of times Rue escapes captors and it just felt too easy almost. But that's a minor detail. Overall this was a strong and solid debut that provided a heroine I couldn't help but love. It combined real world issues and a fantasy setting and it was a great blend.
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 27 books31.8k followers
October 6, 2020
I loved this book so much. I loved badass, beautiful Rue, who was sometimes brave and sometimes questioned herself, just like all of us. I loved Rue's relationship with her sister and the people of her old neighborhood. Occasionally with urban fantasy, authors rely too much on our familiarity with the modern world, and don't create a sense of originality and depth in their worldbuilding. That's not the case with J. Elle. Her worldbuilding is intriguing and layered, leaving you with the feeling that you absolutely MUST see more of this place. At the same time, the pace is breakneck--this book is VERY difficult to put down. Add it to your TBR!
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books485 followers
Want to read
August 12, 2020

no one convince me that this isn't the reincarnation of Rue from The Hunger Games because I'm just gonna live happily in this headcanon of mine
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
686 reviews247 followers
December 13, 2020
The problem I often find with short fantasy novels is that there’s just not enough time to develop a believable world. I was really looking forward to Wings of Ebony, so I'm sad it underwhelmed me. I had a hard time connecting to the characters, and discovered that the magic and worldbuilding elements really fell flat for me.

Before I begin with my criticisms, I feel I should say this: Wings of Ebony is not a terrible book. Sure, some parts of the story weren’t as great as I expected, though I seem to be in the clear minority with my rating. That being said, take my review with a grain of salt, as the vast majority have discovered a profound love for this tale.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

After the death of her mother, Rue discovers her godly ancestry. She is taken to a place called Ghizon where her powers are unlocked, meeting the father she never knew in the process. When her sister back in the real world is endangered, Rue does everything she can to save her, except there’s one problem—she can’t touch humans anymore, or Ghizon’s magical history will be revealed.


It’s hard for me to discern what I enjoyed about Wings of Ebony, mostly because I began skim reading by the 80% mark.

Useless information was doled out in clumps. We learn backstory of different magic factions and go through a sorting ceremony only to realize that none of it is relevant for the rest of the novel. I had a really hard time picturing the magical Ghizon alongside Houston, as not much about it is really described.

Kudos to J. Elle for addressing the ever-present problem of racism unapologetically and without remorse. I really appreciated the parallels drawn between the magical world and colonization, plus the discussions about racism. Everything is handled in a way that is immediate and in your face, which is what needs to happen when it comes to these topics.

There isn’t much left I can say. This was an objectively decent book. I wish I loved it more. I’m sad I didn’t. Would I recommend it? That’s hard to say. I think other reviewers will help you formulate a better opinion in that regard. Anyways, thanks for reading my review!

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the arc!
Profile Image for Ashley.
800 reviews442 followers
December 23, 2021
Star Rating: —> 5 [ Glimmering, Glistening, GOLD ] Stars

Just... WOW. Wowwowwowwow. THIS WAS... EVERYTHING! So fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I can't... i just can't stop crying! It's a good thing, though.

A lush fantasy, BRILLIANTLY written, with so many parallels to our own world, the state it is in... my God this novel is so... NEEDED. SO moving. (Also as a bonus this, I would say, is semi-portal writing! Parallel worlds!) And yet it is so much more than that. This truly affected me SO MUCH. The sense of humor throughout the novel is incredible as well—it makes this book all the more memorable. It never reads as if it is preaching the issues it tackles, either.

I am just absolutely blown AWAY. J. Elle has written an absolute masterpiece that will impact everyone who reads it; I have absolutely NO DOUBT of this.

The MC, Rue, is a QUEEN ! A Black girl from the hood, East Row, in Houston, Texas, who loses her mother, & has her entire life upturned, including finding out that the life of her sister, Tasha, is hanging in the balance. Due to Rue's attempt to save her sister from harm, she accidentally revealed her magic, which is illegal & will result in Tasha's death by the hands of the powers in control of Ghizon (the parallel world!). But no way in hell will Tasha die, not if Rue has anything to say about it! In, again, trying to save the life of her sister, Rue has made herself a target as well. But she finds strength in her pain, because she was raised to be a strong woman, to always find a way, even where there seems to be a dead end.

Rue's mother raised her to be a diamond... and a diamond she certainly is, UNBREAKABLE & FIERCE AF. Even when all the cards seem stacked against her— forces from this world AND beyond are determined to destroy her and everyone she loves—she embraces her strength, and never waivers to defend & protect herself, and the ones she has come to know in both of her worlds. She is guided by the strength of her lost mother, & her mother's words always in her head, always pushing her forward, and helping her find her own strength. Watching her truly come into her own & embracing both worlds was nothing short of inspiring. She is a protagonist to admire; someone to aspire to be like. She is beautiful in so many ways—she is beyond strong, and she will not allow anything to break her.

BUT YET—She is drawn into a magical world that I mentioned earlier, Ghizon, by her magic-wielding father, who resides there. Ghizon has problems that mirror our own, injustice & prejudice existing everywhere, due to complex issues that people from America especially will (hopefully) understand (and I hope that this novel can open more than a few eyes & minds to the issues that do exist in real life, as well).

Rue swears to prevail, in both her East Row home in Houston & in the secret, God dwelling country of Ghizon.

Failure is not an option .

And I won't say anything else— I wouldn't want to spoil this memorable, fantastical, yet also very frighteningly real adventure of a story; It is a novel that you need to read & experience.

I am still wiping the tears from my eyes.

It ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope it is the first in a series, but if not, with my confidence in Rue, I truly have no doubts about what will happen.

This is a book that needs to be in EVERY LIBRARY. My God, what a truly important YA novel, yet at the same time a novel that transcends age! I cannot emphasize just how important this novel is.

A million times over, I will recommend this book to every single person I know. So, needless to say—

100% recommend
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
493 reviews670 followers
February 13, 2021
Whew! I wasn't ready! This book hit hard! To say Rue has had it hard would be a huge understatement. Still reeling from her mother's death and being whisked away to a foreign land against her will by her father, Rue has escaped back to her old stomping grounds in search of her little sister, Tasha. In Ghizon she's an outsider among gray skinned beings who are nothing like her community back home. East Row gets a bad rep but she loves her neighborhood and would do anything to protect it. Lately it's like a war zone with people dying left and right and when a dangerous gang targets her sis she knows what she needs to do.

The writing is easy to read and J Elle creates an interesting world without an overly complicated magic system. And Rue's strength didn't lie in her magical abilities but her determination to fight for her neighbors. She doesn't try to change herself to fit in to Ghizon. Nor does this book try to change itself to read as safe commentary against race for white people like some social justice YA books do. Rue uses aave and the words she uses aren't always explained. She's proud of her hood and wants to show the world there's more to it than the violent stereotypes. She lives by the mantra of making a way. This book gives commentary on appropriation, colonization, and systematic racism without being overly heavy handed.

Wings of Ebony is more magic realism than epic fantasy with much of the story taking place in Houston. But there's hints that Ghizon will be further explored in the sequel.

After that intense ending I have to know what's next!

I received an arc from Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

Longer review
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,796 followers
July 24, 2021
Shout out to J. Elle for writing a book that's unapologetically Black and doesn't change dialogue or character development to appease to what the publishing industry deems appropriate. And finally shout out for giving us a book that is literal Black Girl Magic.

Wings of Ebony has been on my radar to read since I got a copy. I heard so many great things about it and I couldn't wait to dive in. J. Elle doesn't disappoint. The novel revolves around Rue who has been forced into this world of magic (Ghizon) with her biological father after her mother dies. It is clear from the beginning that Rue not only struggles with the loss of her mother, but also the loss of a relationship with her sister that she has to leave behind. While in Ghizon, Rue learns that teens in her home town are being forced into lives of crime and violence. This parallels some evil/darkness that also exist in Ghizon.

What is most interesting about this book is that it is a little less fantasy then I think most people are anticipating. Most of it does take place in the real world, but it also has a magic system/world that is accessible to readers. This probably doesn't work for a lot of traditional fantasy readers; however, J. Elle excelled in creating a fantasy book that not only had representation in terms of the way her characters looked, but this will be the first time that a lot of readers truly see and feel themselves in a fantasy book where the writer forgot about appealing to the White gaze. To read a fantasy book where the characters are speaking in AAVE is going to be pivotal for a lot of youth readers. It's a book that focuses greatly on social commentary through the framework of a fantasy story.

In terms of character development, I really enjoyed Rue as a character. The love and bond that she has for/with her sister made my heart melt. She was willing to literally break every rule that was set forth by Ghizon to protect her sister and keep her safe. It constantly reminded me of the appreciation, adoration, and respect that Black women have for each other. It does take a little while to connect with Rue as a character, but I think that it's because of the way in which the story is written. There are a lot of flashbacks that give context to Rue's present day behavior, but it does stifle the character development in some ways. Nevertheless, she's a determined character with a great love and passion for her community.

This book is fast paced. It's a quick and easy read, but it's also a book that has shocking moments with lots of plot twists and turns. These specific elements allowed J. Elle to seamlessly weave in social commentary very specific to the Black community. Nothing in this book should be taken for granted and if any scenes or moments in this book feel very familiar, I am convinced that it was J. Elle's attempt to do so. Wings of Ebony is definitely a strong debut and I can't wait to see what the author is going to do with the second book.
Profile Image for Unknown Reviews.
45 reviews118 followers
Want to read
September 3, 2020
A book about a black girl who is half-human, half-god? Where can I get an advanced copy? :)
Profile Image for Ayman.
202 reviews76.2k followers
July 29, 2021
this book was great. it tackles important issues and it’s super action packed. I enjoyed this book completely. I like how fast pace it was. I enjoy short books. I agree that there could have been more world building however it was nothing that bothered me. I can’t wait for a book two I feel like we’re in for another huge ride.
Profile Image for Kelis Rowe.
Author 2 books86 followers
March 21, 2020
Rue, the protagonist in Wings of Ebony, is the antitheses of what America would love black girls to be. In a country where black girls are constantly being told to tone it down, Rue is like, bump that, we turning up.

J.Elle has written a book that gives us a brave, no-nonsense black girl, blessed with more magic than she knows, and a mind that doesn’t stop until everything makes sense. She doesn’t mince words. She says what’s on her mind, you can pardon her French or not, and asks the hard questions until she is satisfied with the answers. We haven’t seen a girl like Rue in YA. [If we have, please point me in her direction] She gives Katniss Everdeen vibes, mostly because we’re not used to reading young female protagonists who are self-sure, brave, pragmatic, tough, etc. (even though hella girls are this way in real life). She’s scared, but never a damsel in distress. Ready to save her own self and everybody else, but a guy can help if he wants. I’m obsessed.

The world-building in Houston and in the magical (literally) land of Ghazan is the perfect balance of Contemporary and Afrofuturism. The language and spells used got me so hype and ready to see young fans cosplaying and spell-casting.

At the heart of this story is a complicated, heart-rending relationship between a girl and her absent father, and the unavoidable ways in which a father-daughter relationship shapes a girl’s idea of who she is and what she’s capable of.

Wings of Ebony also holds a mirror up to racism and colonization in a way that slowly brings the message into focus. It’s not harsh, but it hits real and true and cannot be missed. It also holds a mirror up to non-racist allies who might not realize how much they may subconsciously sympathize with systems of oppression that they benefit from.

Rue’s mother raised a diamond. J.Elle wrote a diamond. lol Wings of Ebony is the most precious of gems— all of YA fantasy and every teen who reads it will be better for it. So excited for this debut.
Profile Image for Cassidy.
72 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2021
2 stars

Warning: this review is more of a rant than a review. There’s no swearing, but there aren’t many coherent thoughts either.

Isn’t it so disappointing when the synopsis of a book sounds so good but the book itself just...isn’t?

Unfortunately, that’s what happened here.

On the one hand, I really loved how this book addressed racism in a real and believable way. This was incorporated throughout the book, and I got to see glimpses of how horrible Black people can be treated, and of all of the minor aggressions they face in their everyday lives. It was truly eye-opening and heart-wrenching, and I really appreciated this aspect of the book. On the other hand, though, I just feel like the book wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. The plot, if I’m being honest, was kind of all over the place. The direction that this book was going in was never really clear, and some of the events that occurred weren’t very believable (more on that later). Many of the things that were promised in the synopsis (like the mysterious evil) played a very minor role in the book, and weren’t actually that important (which was pretty disappointing). And UGH, the CHARACTERS! I tried to like them. I really did. And then I lowered my expectations and attempted to simply tolerate them. BUT I’M SORRY. I JUST COULDN’T. There were a total of four different personalities that a character could possess: you were either stubborn, infuriating, half-baked, or unnecessarily powerful. Or, if you’re talking about our lovely main character, you’re all of them. On that topic, LET’S TALK ABOUT RUE.

Rue, aka the world’s most entitled girl, is the main object of my loathing right now. She’s super stubborn, ultra rash, and rude as heck. She always finds a way to insult someone, and she thinks the world belongs to her and her alone. And she has serious anger issues. Once, she vowed to blow a person’s head off just because he looked at her funny (and not in a racist way!). I mean, really? Grow up, girlie. To conclude: not that I hate Rue or anything, but I kinda hate Rue.

Some of the things that happened in the book weren’t very believable. (🚨warning: this paragraph may contain very minor spoilers🚨). To start, we don’t even get a half-decent explanation about why Tasha got in the car with that creep. I mean, really? He offers you donuts and suddenly you think getting in a car with a stranger is a good idea? Where is your common sense?? Also, Rue apparently isn’t supposed to touch other humans, but uh we bypass that rule many many times...🙄 AND, the romance (if you can even call it that) between Rue and Jhamal (I think that’s his name?) is SO insta-lovey and very very fake. Like, she sees him performing magic tricks with his shirt off ONCE and suddenly they’re both in love?? And UGH, the thing where he calls her “My Queen” is soooo cringey.

Okay, but the ONE THING that really set me off (yes, even more than Ms. Self-Centered) was all of the stuttering that was going on!! Seriously. Everyone in the book stuttered at least twice. For reference:

“I-I’m so sorry…”

“Y-you wanna come in?”

“A-are you okay?”

“I-I’m just not sure what to do…”

“O-okay. I-I’m ready.”

“Y-you can do that?”

“I-I didn’t know…”

This all happened in the span of three pages. 🤦‍♀️

Overall, I’d say that this book sounded promising but did not deliver. :/
Profile Image for Jenna.
187 reviews393 followers
May 5, 2021
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

TW: Police brutality, violence against minors, gore, gun violence, drugs, racism. Please check a booktriggerwarnings.com for a more comprehensive list.

I want more fantasy books set in the southern states, I am strictly talking about books set in the U.S. by the way - I’m all for diverse, international settings. We have a plethora of books set along the East Coast and California, we get it, we understand the appeal, but let’s see something different ,please. Also, yes, I am from Texas and am absolutely biased and love that this book was set in Houston, TX. Bonus, it’s an urban fantasy which I am a complete sucker for.

Rue is fabulous, strong, competent and loyal, but she also infuriated me like no other. Communication is key folks! I mean I get it, I wouldn’t be too keen to have a heart-to-heart with the man I thought abandoned me either. This is definitely an Aasim call-out, because communication works both ways, and I need people to share their thoughts, not keep them hidden away so others can speculate. So, don’t get me wrong I was super interested in Rue’s life in her Houston community and the juxtaposition with New Ghizon, but I also had a hard time truly capturing New Ghizon’s essence. With time the setting became a bit more clear, but honestly I feel like the description of the people was described well, but the setting still has me a little confused. Is it modern, is it steam-punk - I’m uncertain.

There were a few elements I wanted to see developed further, but since this is a duology I have high hopes things will be more concise and clear in the sequel. I noticed a few tidbits of information that were stated that had me side-eyeing the storyline, so I’m curious to see if my inklings develop. The pacing was also a little off-kilter for me, some parts felt really well done and explained, while other moments felt a bit rushed. I wouldn’t have minded if this book had been a bit longer to enable more clarity and development. That’s pretty much what kept it from getting four stars from me. Sometimes I felt like I was missing something, or we would get to a pretty pivotal moment and then it would just be over, so the emotional impact wasn’t fully savored.

I am not a fan of love triangles, maybe I would just rather the characters be polyamorous, maybe it’s the execution? Truly, I am not sure what it is, but they really bug me and I’m crossing my fingers that we don’t have one develop here. That’s my own preference though, and it didn’t affect my rating. The sister dynamic in this novel was wonderful and I love that even though Tasha is twelve she isn’t dumbed down. Children are competent and aware, and unfortunately, some have to mature faster than others, but they are still children. I think this was highlighted well, and with care.

J. Elle definitely hit the nail on the head with how she handled racism and social injustices. Characters were left to figure things out on their own, without coddling from their Black counterparts. Notice, how I’m saying Black and not POC, this story isn’t about all POC, Rue is from a predominantly Black neighborhood. Sure, there are probably some similarities that can be shared amongst different groups, but since this story is focused on Rue’s community, please, don’t lump us all under the POC umbrella when you are speaking about a particular group. I promise you it is not a crime to say Black. If YOU want to learn and grow, then YOU have to put in the work.

Yeah, sometimes people aren’t aware, although in real life situations it’s time we all start waking up and acknowledging our various spheres of privilege. Stop making the marginalized and oppressed make you feel better, figure out your feelings and do better. Period. Also, racists are racist, they aren’t misunderstood, they aren’t [enter whatever excuse people use to excuse harmful actions]. Their hatred has real-life implications, trauma-inducing effects on people’s lives. So let’s stop trying to worry about making sure the people doing the harm feel supported and start uplifting and supporting those who have been abused, overlooked, and marginalized. That’s the messaging you're going to get in this book, and I’m glad about it too. We don’t need any more books sugar-coating the crap some of us have to deal with, and I’m not saying I have had it nearly as bad as some of the people in this story, but it’s not the oppression olympics. Being the recipient of racism sucks, no matter the severity.

I’m looking forward to the sequel, and can’t wait to see what Rue does next. A lot of things are revealed, but there is still a lot left up in the air. There are a few characters I’d liked to “kick in the shin” yeah, that’s a PC statement, so hopefully they get their shins aggressively kicked in book two. :)

*This is an Own Voices review.
Profile Image for Brooke W.
124 reviews200 followers
May 14, 2021
Four near-flawless, heart-shattering, realistic stars. This is my most bookmarked book ever!

This book deserves 5 stars for the African American/African representation, it nearly made it to 5 stars for overall enjoyment as well. I just had a few small problems with it.

"We are strong- nobody's prey."

I want to start of the depths of this review with a thank you to the author, J. Elle. This book carries the message I've been looking for in books. Life is cruel, and black hate is real. This book is a sea of inspiration and heartfelt moments, with family, love, betrayal, and hope for a better future. My respect and my heart is with J. Elle for being so real in her books, facing problems head on, and sharing her #OwnVoices story. I wish I could quote this whole book!

"And George Floyd: Rest easy fam. This is for you."

I can feel the heart and effort that Elle put into this novel, it is a ground-breaking debut- I need a sequel as soon as possible!

I LOVED Rue's (the main character) voice. It was so bold, original, raw, and inspiring. She is a character I didn't know I needed!

"This is a ride or die moment."

I didn't really care too much about the other characters aside from Julius and Bri, the most loyal friends you could ever have. Every second they were on page filled my heart.

The first thing I didn't like was the pacing. It was kind of odd at times, sometimes it was slow, sometimes fast. Wings of Ebony had a twisty and masterful plot which made it all the more harder to navigate while still trying to solve the mystery.

I admire Elle's mystery element- very strong for a debut and I didn't expect there to be one! I was able to predict a lot of the plot, but there were so many things going on underground that were unexpected.

The second thing that was rough for me was the writing style. At first, I wasn't into it, because I was trying to figure out the world and Rue hadn't found her voice yet. But in the end, everything started to piece together and I could understand Rue a lot more. I did love the descriptions that Elle gave of settings and scenes, but I wish that the magic system was explained better in the beginning along with the other descriptions. There were also a few reused phrases I got a little tired of.

My third and final problem, was the ~romance~. It was not that good, but it wasn't bad either. It was a love triangle. One side was insta-love and one side was childhood friends/ex-lovers. I was all in for the childhood friend, but then insta-love wrecked everything. I think that in the end, it would have been better if the romance wasn't there- not even as a sub plot.

All in all, this book gave me hope, showed me the brutal truth about black hate, and took me on the wildest and one of the best adventures I have even been on!

I recommend this to everyone reading this. Even if this isn't your type of book, I would try it. It pulled me in and didn't let me go until I came away with valuable lessons, I hope it does the same for you!
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
295 reviews1,462 followers
December 29, 2021
Holy shitballs this was SO. FUCKING. GOOD.

Jfc, i'm out here at almost midnight, mind blown. and crying at the end of the acknowledgements. That's where I'm at in life. This is definitely making it into my top 10 of 2021. Is it wrong of me to consider rereading it already?
Profile Image for Violet Stone.
327 reviews32 followers
March 26, 2021
I feel bad giving this one star because I saw what the author was trying to do here, the story she was telling.

But I was so close to making this a DNF so many times, and almost DNF books get 1 star from me.

I have a lot of thoughts about this book so this will be a long review. There are a lot of points I want to address. So a few disclaimers before we get started. I understood the basic theme of this book: racism. Racism is a very real thing in our society. Wings of Ebony tackles this and many other hard topics. Obviously I'm in the minority here on how I felt about this book. Just remember that these thoughts are my own and in no way reflects how I feel about the topics presented in this book or the author.

My review will focus on the world building, magic, and character development. As well as some other aspects.

TW: strong language, gun violence, death, racism, drugs,

Moving forward there WILL BE SPOILERS. Proceed with caution.


Wings of Ebony written by J. Elle is about a young woman named Rue. The book starts off with her returning to her block of East Row after a year in the magical world of Ghizon. A year ago her mother was shot and killed and her estranged father came to collect her but not her other sister Tasha because she wasn't his.

After coming home, Rue saves her sister from a car accident, which results in her touching Tasha. Skin to skin contact lets a non Ghizon know all there is to know about that world, which is illegal and will result in Tasha's death. The secret must be kept no matter the cost. Of course Rue won't allow this to happen and finds herself in a lot of trouble.

That's the basic plot of this book that further develops as the story continues.

There are a lot of flashbacks placed in some of the worst spots. As the action starts to build and things are happening: flashback. It left me reeling and trying to keep up with the sudden shifts in tone. Most of the flashbacks are of Ghizon, and how Rue acquired her magic.

There's a lot of telling instead of showing. We're constantly told that the "block is fam", "that the Chancellor is evil", "that the cops won't do nothing", and so on and so forth. There's also more talking about the magic than there is actual magic.

Before I speak about a specific one, again, if I would look at the real world then yes, these statements make sense. But I needed something in the actual book.

Real quick about the cops, they are barely shown and when they are they're...doing their job. Asking questions, investigating. But Rue is incredibly negative and never gives them a chance. We're never shown a dirty cop in this book who looks away from something happening. Or arresting someone we know to be innocent.

I know that this pulls from real life, and that's fine (what book doesn't), but that doesn't mean the world building can be neglected. We're never really shown how the block is fam. She only interacts with about three people from East Row and doesn't really seem to know anyone. Her connection with East Row wasn't developed enough. When one of the people from there is getting tortured she barely knows who it is. His name and what position he played on the football team isn't knowing someone.

Now, I'm not saying that wasn't a powerful scene. The best written out of the entire book, in my opinion. Rue's reaction to not being able to do anything was corporeal. But, it would have hit so much harder if it was someone she knew. Especially since we got so little interaction with anyone else.

Either way, it was a good scene that moved Rue forward as a character.

Speaking of character deaths lets talk about another.

Sitting here, thinking about what to tackle next I realized I could write a 30 page essay on this book. I had a similar feeling towards White Stag. Some books just pull out the essay side of me.

Anyways, I'll make this section short. Worldbuilding. Not enough of it. Not nearly! Ghizon is barely described. East Row is barely described. We enter a non descript cave for a good third of the book, nothing. Everything is too crowded by Rue's negativity.

The magic is barely understood and that's because Rue doesn't care. She just wants it without the effort it seems. They get these bits of Onyx imbedded in their wrists which allows them to use the Chancellor's magic, which also allows him to block it whenever he sees fit. Which, I'm not sure how to even talk about the sorting process or how the onyx is embedded because non of it really made any sense.

Let's move on to the romance. So much of it felt out of place in this book. And seemed more like the author was just trying to check some boxes off. She reconnects with an old flame who isn't Ghizon and a new interest who is. I think it will be a way for her to feel conflicted in future books but it didn't fit in this one. Especially the Ghizon interest. They spoke maybe twice and then they had a passionate kiss near the end. There's no sense of build up to this moment, no previous tension. Unless you count how often she recognizes his well built body. But I digress. Let's continue.

Rue herself is a frustrating character. She's incredibly negative and victimizes herself whenever she can. Doesn't care for other people's wellbeing except for her sister. Everything is at everyone else's expense. Especially her friend Bri, who is constantly breaking the rules for her and doing everything she can to help her.

At this point I feel like I covered a lot and got most of my thoughts and frustrations out. But near the end of the book, I really felt like Rue was encroaching on vigilante territory. Without the cops they're determined to get the gang and drugs out of their own block. Which was great, but again, the impactful hit wasn't there because I had no connection with anyone in East Row.

Personally I think the entire book should have been in East Row. And she finds the cuffs, or they're magically given to her. And she becomes a vigilante of East Row. Only to discover Ghizon near the end and her ancestry. But that's just me.

Despite all this and my overall thoughts. I really did see what the author was trying to convey. That you are more than where you come from or what color you are. Racism is real, and can tear apart a community. But coming together, growing together, becoming stronger in the pain can create...well, diamonds.

I received this ARC via Goodreads giveaways. But this in no way affects my rating.

Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
March 9, 2021
Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. After seeing this beautiful cover, I feel like I had high expectations and that I expected something else. Perhaps a book focused a bit more on the fantasy, on the world-building and magic system? I don't know. My biggest issue is that I had a hard time picturing what the world was like and what was going on and because of that, I quickly lost interest and didn't really get it back. And while I appreciate what the author did with the topics and subjects like racism, I can't say I enjoyed this book or would want to read a sequel.
Profile Image for The Reading Raccoon.
797 reviews107 followers
March 18, 2021
Read for the Barnes and Noble March 2021 YA Book Club

Wings of Ebony is a young adult urban fantasy about a teenage girl (Rue) forced to live with her biological father in a land of magic (Ghizonia) after her mother is murdered. After sneaking back to Houston to leave a gift for her half-sister Rue finds herself in the middle of a mysterious takeover by a new gang that involves her family, drugs and acts of violence against her entire old neighborhood. But Rue may not be able to get to the bottom of it because the fallout from her secret visit may mean that the rulers of Ghizonia, including her father, could imprison her or take her magic away (or do something bad to her sister).

Because this book is told in the first person and the story of Rue’s arrival in Ghizonia is all in flashback we don’t really get to experience her isolation and grief over losing her family in real time. Instead, we are shoved in the middle of an action scene and slowly who she is and how the magic works is unveiled. Because of that and how sparingly details about her inner life are shared I never truly got to know Rue and what I did discover I didn’t enjoy. She spends most of the book either complaining or arguing. I also found the magic system uninteresting and the characters surrounding her flat. No one says anything particularly deep or funny. During a pivotal fight scene this is what villain says to Rue, “Not completely stupid, I see,” he says. “But I guess even dogs have brains.” Ummm...what? That sounds like an insult my 11 year old would come up with. And when Rue finds herself attracted to a handsome young man from her father’s land “Heat rushes through me like a waterfall shoved through a clogged drain”. Gross.

By the halfway point I found myself completely disengaged from this book and Rue’s fight to rescue her sister. The pacing was completely off for me and I struggled to get through. Although I appreciate that this is a debut author, #ownvoices and has a message about racism and social justice I didn’t enjoy the characters (except for Ms. Leola and the descriptions of all the desserts she baked), the plot or the entire explanation of how Rue, her family and the island got their magic.

This was a 2 star read for me ⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
928 reviews799 followers
February 9, 2022
3.5 stars

A breath of fresh air within the YA fantasy "there's a magic world among us!" trope, with a lot to say and a lot of heart to give.

Concepts: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★

"Moms raised a diamond..."

Rue comes from the East Row, where the families look out for each other and happiness, love, and loyalty bloom amid the concrete. She and her half-sister, Tasha, live with their mom and are doing pretty well.

Until, that is, their mom is shot on their doorstep and life as Rue knows it ends.

Suddenly, Rue's absent dad arrives on the scene with a puff of magic (literally) and whisks Rue away to the magical island of Ghazan. Where apparently a land of magical, gray-tinged white people reside, and Rue and her father are the only brown-skinned people in the whole joint.

Yes, it's just as weird as you're thinking...And Rue's having none of it.

Rue's pissed. Dragged away from her sister, reeling from her mom's murder, NOT on board with her no-good father's weird return, and now struggling with a magic she didn't want and a people she doesn't understand.... it's a lot.

And oh, there's also some serious sh** going on and more people are turning up in trouble.

...And diamonds never crack.

Told through a past/present split timeline and through Rue's intensely personal point of view, Wings of Ebony was a unique voice in the realm of today's young adult fantasy and really highlighted a lot of the internal/external issues surrounding Black teens today. And it was a damn fun time too, that also needs to be in there.

There's a lot of "real world" involved right in with the fantastical, so do go into this novel with the expectation that it's not a high fantasy/magical school concept—Rue is back and forth within the magical and non-magical scene throughout the entirety of this book and so are the rest of the characters.

In truth, I thought that Wings of Ebony stood apart from many other fantasies in its tropes BECAUSE of the intermeshed realities of Rue's ties between the magical community and her home of the East Row. There was no clean break, no escapism, no forgetting your roots to embrace the new like we've seen done before in so many other (let's be honest, traditionally white) books.

I know my voice in the discussion as a white adult woman might not add much to the discussions of this book (and frankly, that's fine - this was not a book meant for me or traditionally white audiences, I do recommend checking out the other wonderful reviews coming from more relevant voices) but I do think it was truly awesome to read a book that was clearly for young Black women and teens that didn't cater to white audiences in terms of its dialogue, plot points, or references. There was a lot outside of my personal experience in Wings of Ebony, and to be honest I loved that, Rue taught me things through the page just by her experiences and how she framed her thoughts to the other non-Black characters in this book—but that teaching wasn't her job, or the novel's job, to do that so I'm taking those points as a good personal side benefit, not anything that I came to this novel with as an expectation.

The only caveats to Wings of Ebony in terms of its technical structure, for me, was its pacing. At times, I really did struggle with the flow of the past-to-present timelines and in general found it easy to pick up and put down this book because the flow from action point to action point felt uneven in places. But those are quibbles, this was still an incredibly solid and extremely unique debut.

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Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews190 followers
January 7, 2022
4.5/5 I really enjoyed this debut!

Wings of Ebony follows Rue after the fatal shooting of her Moms. Her estranged father comes and takes Rue to a land called Ghizon where its inhabitants have magic. Rue is stranded there for a whole year. But with the help of her genius best friend, she's able to transport herself back to Earth without being tracked. What starts out as a simple task to deliver a birthday gift to her sister, becomes increasingly more complicated when Tasha is almost killed in a car crash. Not only that but something is infiltrating East Row with drugs and murdering young Black kids. Rue knows the police are no help, so it will be up to her and the other occupants of East Row to figure out what's happening.

Y'all this book was so good! I really enjoyed the portal fantasy type world going on here. There's also so much going on in terms of colonisation, and systemic racism. J. Elle put so much into this book. I loved getting to know more about Rue's home of East Row, and the magical world of Ghizon. Rue is such a strong and relentless character, I loved her so much. She is fierce in her determination to protect those she loves and cares for. I was rooting for Rue 200% of the time, I wanted to see her succeed.

The world building is done so well in this book. But it is more of a slow build. We don't get all of the mechanics of Ghizon right away. The other thing is that the history of Ghizon has been written by the victors, which have secrets to hide. So if you're confused about how things work, just keep going. Trust me.

I loved how much family plays a role in this story. J. Elle didn't pull any punches either when it comes to the emotional side of things. I definitely was traumatized by a particular scene in the end. I can't wait to see what else J. Elle writes!

Rep: Black and Indigenous (to a fantasy land based off Africa) female MC, Black and Indigenous side characters.

CWs: Abandonment, blood, car accident colonisation, death, death of parents, gaslighting, fire, grief, gun violence, injury/injury detail, murder, racism, violence.
Profile Image for Nikki S.
1,441 reviews64 followers
February 19, 2021

Listen, if you know me, you KNOW this is EVERYTHING I could want in a book. And that's just from the description. Pitched as Wonder Woman and The Hate U Give in a Wakandan world? Can I have it now please? PLEASE?????


And now in the synopsis it says "a Black teen in Houston" and OMG IF THIS ISN'T ME!!!!!! It keeps getting better and better! I need this yesterday! How can I make this happen?!


I saw the audio is narrated by Bahni Turpin and I decided that's how I need to experience this. I'm going to wait on the audio because I feel like this is something I just need to experience!


Definitely worth the hype. The under lying issue at hand itself is worth it. Real review to come.
Profile Image for Mau (Maponto Lee).
277 reviews78 followers
December 27, 2022
"Wings of Ebony" puede ser una novela de fantasía, pero sus paralelismos con nuestro propio mundo son los que la hacen conmovedora. El mundo que explora es interesante por derecho propio, y las lecciones que imparte la historia hacen que la novela sea mucho más especial.
Una joven afro-descendiente llamada Rue descubre que tiene poderes mágicos. La historia comienza un año después de que el padre de Rue la llevara al mundo mágico de Ghizon después de que asesinaran a su madre, siendo la única mujer con piel de color oscuro en ese lugar. Allí, descubre la verdad sobre su ascendencia y que este nuevo mundo también tiene un lado oscuro.

Sin embargo, Rue no es la típica heroína de una historia de fantasía. Rue se ha criado en East Row, una zona pobre de Houston, y ha sido endurecida por las situaciones difíciles de su vida allí, lo cual la lleva a no aceptar fácilmente su nueva naturaleza mágica. Ella es audaz, valiente y nada política, y sin embargo lucha con una gran identidad y sentido de pertenencia.

Rue es un personaje único, ferozmente protectora con los que ama, pero que también les hará saber si hacen algo mal. Es empática y cariñosa, pero también es terca y le resulta difícil confiar en alguien o pedir ayuda porque siente que es ella contra el mundo, por lo cual es satisfactorio verla darse cuenta lentamente de que no está sola. Aunque siente miedo, eso no le impide hacer lo correcto y obtener justicia para aquellos que no pueden obtenerla por sí mismos.

Es desgarrador leer sobre su dolor por su madre y su complicada relación con su padre, ya que solo lo conoce después de que su madre muere y él simplemente la aleja de todos y de todo en un momento en que necesita a los que ama. Es reconfortante ver que con el tiempo ella se vuelve más abierta a hablar con su padre, pero eso no significa que lo absuelva de no estar nunca allí o de llevarla a Ghizon, a pesar de que él explica por qué.

La autora J. Elle arroja luz sobre cómo es vivir en un vecindario como East Row. No lo condena ni a los que viven allí, sino que ilumina su experiencia, las injusticias que enfrentan y la comunidad que las personas que lo habitan tienen entre sí. Esta novela es única y muy intrigante con relación a la magia y la cultura. Los paralelismos con nuestro mundo son claros e importantes en todo momento. Cuando Rue profundiza y ve lo que todos los habitantes de Ghizon han estado ignorando, encuentra enterradas horribles verdades, no muy diferente de nuestra propia historia. Hay algunas escenas realmente conmovedoras en torno a esta revelación, las autorrealizaciones de Rue y las de sus amigos.

Los temas tratados incluyen la familia, la lealtad y la alianza, y todos son realmente estimulantes. El amor de Rue por su hermana es también intenso e importante. En términos de magia, las habilidades terminan siendo menos significativas que el cómo, y la moralidad entra de lleno. Por ejemplo, Rue no entiende por qué no se debería usar la magia para ayudar a otros. Así mismo, el tema de las clases socioeconómicas y cómo estas pueden definir un futuro, está latente. Por ejemplo, en el reino mágico las personas se dividen de manera arbitraria, pero principalmente según el linaje familiar, y su futura carrera o clase socioeconómica es independiente de sus capacidades.

Las partes relacionadas con el racismo en la historia (como Rue y su padre siendo los únicos con piel de color oscuro en Ghizon, la forma en que los tratan allí, cómo su antiguo vecindario es ignorado por la policía, etc.) se manejan muy bien. Hay incluso una charla entre Rue y su mejor amiga en Ghizon sobre cómo lidiar con las repercusiones del racismo que vale la pena volver a leer. Es doloroso, pero también es una conversación necesaria con la que los aliados deben luchar.

La relación de Rue con su amiga Bri también llama mucho atención. Bri es su única amiga en el mundo de Ghizon, donde ambas se sienten fuera de lugar. Pero cuando Rue descubre la verdad sobre Ghizon y lo que esa gente le ha hecho a sus antepasados, Bri también lucha por aceptar la verdad. Las conversaciones que sostienen acerca de las consecuencias de las acciones de los antepasados de Bri se sienten como conversaciones que muchos de nosotros podríamos tener hoy en día. Al igual que Bri, muchas personas con piel de color claro luchan por aceptar lo que sus antepasados le han hecho a la gente con piel de color oscuro. J. Elle hace un gran trabajo al sacar a la luz estos temas y, si bien están envueltos en una novela de fantasía, está claro que apuntan a nuestro propio mundo.

Como punto desfavorable, la narración se siente terminar de manera abrupta y en medio de la acción. Podemos asumir que J. Elle ha hecho esto a propósito en preparación para una secuela, pero hubiera sido mejor que el final tuviera un poco más de cierre. Sin embargo, quedamos con ansias de la próxima novela y la continuación de la historia de Rue. "Wings of Ebony" le da voz a una chica afro-descendiente dentro de una novela de fantasía, y creo que a todos nos viene bien más de eso.

Reseña completa sin spoilers en mi canal de YouTube! ➡ Maponto Lee 📚 Link aquí!
Profile Image for ian (hiatus) nelson.
174 reviews52 followers
February 2, 2022
2.63 stars


it wasn’t horrible, and the concept was definitely interesting, but it felt like such a drag to read.

SORRY! I know I should probably have given it more of a chance, but I have other books I would rather read 😭
Profile Image for Oyinda.
661 reviews155 followers
March 30, 2021
Book 45 of 2021

This was a very highly anticipated read for me, and I was glad to finally get the audiobook. I shot it right to the top of my TBR, and it was ultimately a great book with a strong message.

When I started this book, I enjoyed how fast paced it was, even though it took me a long time to form any attachment to the characters. This book was full of action and emotions, and it was very enjoyable.

This book tells the story of Rue, and her adventures in Ghizon, a secret magical world where she was whisked to by her father after the murder of her mother. Having to abandon her sister was the hardest thing Rue had ever done in her life, and the rules of Ghizon make it so that she can never have a relationship with her sister again. Unable to resist the temptation to see her sister on the anniversary of her mother’s death, Rue breaks the rules and her decision has dire consequences.

She makes a number of discoveries in the time she spends in her childhood home, and none of them are very good. She soon finds herself on the run from Ghizon authorities, and also in a race to save her childhood home from the hands of some evil people. Her allies are her best friend from Ghizon, and she also finds another unlikely ally as she goes.

This book has a lot of suspense, twists, turns, and revelations that blew my mind. I was wowed at every turn, and I absolutely loved what J. Elle did with this book, the characters, and so many other elements. The world building was exquisite, and I loved how she created the layout of the various worlds of this book.

The audiobook narrator, Bahni Turpin, was so good, and I enjoyed her performance as Rue a lot.

Some very important real-world issues were brought up and explored in this fantasy novel, such as racism, the way the media ignores black communities, how black kids are forced into crime, how white people steal from black people, and so many others.
I enjoyed this book and it was worth all the hype and anticipation for me.
Profile Image for Toya (the reading chemist).
1,131 reviews96 followers
January 29, 2021
This is one of those situations where I don’t think my review will do this book justice. There are literally too many incredibly important topics covered in a raw and unflinching manner.

Following the senseless murder of her mother, Rue is unexpectedly uprooted from her life in Houston’s East Row to the hidden magical island of Ghizon (tucked off the coast of Africa). The problem is that Rue’s 12 year old sister Tasha was left behind and East Row is becoming even more dangerous.

Rue is the character that I wish I saw on the page growing up. She’s authentic, fierce, loyal, and unwilling to be intimidated when it comes to both danger and injustice. Rue never forgets the hood that she came from and those who helped even when the opportunity to wield magic is more than a bit enticing.

When I said this book tackles a myriad of important topics, I was in no way exaggerating. There’s racism, gentrification, colonization, performative allyship, abandonment, oppression, cultural appropriation…just to name a few.

This book is a heavy hitter, but it is incredible. From start to finish, this book is a nonstop, action packed page turner that also manages to tug at your heartstrings. The world building is lush (especially when you learn the truth in Ghizon), and the magic system is fascinating. There’s so many things at play, and I don’t want to give spoilers, so I will leave it at that.

Thank you to Simon Teen for providing a copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for melhara.
1,274 reviews57 followers
December 14, 2021
Unpopular Opinion: This was possibly my most disappointing read of the year.

The premise of this book held a lot of promise - a girl, Rue, finds out that she's descended from people with magic and gets whisked away to a magical world, but runs back home to visit her non-magical half-sister only to find her home ridden with crime and violence. Obviously, she just had to break the no-contact-with-humans rule and use her magic to do some good!

Unfortunately, there were so many things that I just did not like about this book:

1) My biggest issue was with the dialogue.
It seemed like every single character had a stutter. There's nothing wrong with the occasional stutter or having a character that stutters, but it is beyond annoying when every single character stutters and when almost every interaction consists of at least one person st-stuttering f-for n-no apparent r-reason.
Rue even stutters when she's thinking (p.13, 198, 233, 237, 245, 246, 274, 280, 281, 283, 284, 285, 290 and 325, 329 in case you're wondering).

She stutters when she speaks to the Chancellor and her dad, and her friends and sister stutter when they're nervous, and her dad stutters when he speaks to her. There's so much stuttering going around, we can probably start a drinking game and get completely wasted by the time we're halfway through the book.
I don't think this is an exhaustive list, but these are all the characters that have stuttered at one point or another (in order of appearance):
-Rue (almost all the time),
-Tasha (p.13, 85, 128, 326),
-Bri (p.40, 41, 121, 139, 248, 254, 255, 256, 298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 330, 336),
-Random man with a cane (p.49),
-Aasim (p.60, 61, 223, 289, 291, 292),
-Luke (p.63, 69 and 70, 336),
-Random salon owner (p.88 and 89),
-Rue's mom (p.95),
-Ms. Leola (p.128, 278),
-Tech (p.209 and 210),
-Jhamal (p.238),
-The General (p.347)
-Aunt Bertha (p.347)

The amount of stuttering that goes on is ridiculous. I think of all the characters, only the Chancellor has not stuttered (yet).

2) The writing also seemed very juvenile and the main character acts like a bratty 13 year-old with a potty mouth. Aside from some profanity and violence, I would say the reading level is more suitable for middle-grade kids or the younger spectrum of YA readers.

3) I wasn't fond of the alternating timeline - the story kept jumping back and forth between present day and a few months back, when Rue was learning about the world of Ghizon and the magic system. The way the timelines were laid out just didn't work for me and I don't really understand why the story couldn't have followed a linear timeline as the 'flashbacks' didn't seem to add much to the present-day timeline and events.

4) And then there's the lazy worldbuilding. I liked that the story explored themes of colonization in the mysterious and magically hidden world of Ghizon (which kind of reminds me of Wakanda?) but there was more telling instead of showing, but even the exposition was kind of lacking in details. There were very few descriptions of the world and society. We get a sense that Ghizon is an authoritarian state full of propaganda about the Chancellor's magic and generosity. And that's all we get. There's no deep dive into what living in this society is like, how the political system or economy works, why no one ever questions the Chancellor's authority, and how Ghizoni's are different from humans (aside from the grey skin and magic).
For some inexplicable reason, people in this society are (randomly, it seems) split into three categories: Zrukis (mineworkers with magic), Dwegini (everyone else with magic), and Macazi (the casteless who nor worthy of neither and don't get any magic). There was no explanation as to why this caste system exists and no one (not even the main character) questioned the system. We also don't know why the Chancellor would even give Rue magic, especially since he supposedly hates her?
And then there's the Old Ghizon - another society that's even more hidden away than New Ghizon. This secret society is even more one-dimensional than the authoritarian state of New Ghizon. I think these people live in caves? Or on the other side of the mountain? I don't know because it wasn't explained very clearly. How they managed to survive in secret, sustain themselves, and practice their 'weakened' magic also wasn't explained very well.
I mean, even East Row was poorly described.
For the most part of the book, Rue doesn't provide any descriptions of Ghizon because she keeps telling herself that Ghizon isn't home - East Row is. But I don't get the sense from her that East Row is home either. What makes East Row "home"? What is East Row like? What type of dwellings, streetscape, and businesses can you find in East Row? The smells, sounds, memories, and people? Just because you call it "home" doesn't mean the reader will believe it.
Overall, the worldbuilding and settings were very poorly established.

5) The magic system was flimsy. There was also a lot of mention of the amazing 'magic' that supposedly exists, but there was very little to show for it and it just seemed to me that Ghizon is an authoritarian state with advanced technology that comes from onyx rocks rather than a magical realm of endless opportunities. There was also no explanation as to why Ghizonis can't touch humans and why the transference of memory occurs when they touch (it also feels like a pointless addition to the magic system).

6) The main character was very unlikeable. Honestly, I have no idea how she even has any friends or love interests. She's rude, ungrateful, and self-absorbed. Although I think it's great that she's 'overprotective' when it comes to her sister, she also doesn't mind abandoning her sister at a moment's notice, jumping back and forth between East Row and Ghizon (I mean, she could've at least updated her sister before leaving every time…).

7) Unnecessary romance. Not surprising in a YA fantasy but I felt like I had to point it out, especially seeing as there was a lack of chemistry between Rue and her love interest(s). I also feel like the author is building towards a potential love triangle later on in the series…

tl;dr - I just wasn't into the writing, the plot, the worldbuilding, or the characters. I ended up skimming most of it because very little about the book kept my interest. I kept reading mainly to keep tabs on the amount of stuttering going on in the dialogue (which was painful to read).

*** #2 of my 2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge - An Afrofuturist book ***
Profile Image for Grace✨.
188 reviews86 followers
March 10, 2021
This book might have rekindled my love for YA fantasy! Rue is such an amazing relatable character, who made this book so special. I loved the magic and world, and I was on the edge of my seat through every turn in the story. I'm so excited for the sequel!! I promise if you're like me and have been moving away from YA fantasy, this one is still entirely worth reading. It's an important, beautiful story, with an essential message.
Profile Image for ~ a foray in fantasy ~.
271 reviews265 followers
April 6, 2021
I wanted to love this book more than I did. I absolutely loved the rep and themes in this book, which is why I didn’t give it two stars. However, the plot and writing fell into the typical YA dystopian tropes. There was one thing that absolutely drove me crazy about the writing- the overuse of stuttering. On almost every page, a character would stutter. If this is not part of their identity, then don’t include it. I would have enjoyed this book much more if every stutter (that only served to disconnect me from the reading experience) was removed. Overall, a promising debut. I suspect that this author will greatly improve with her second book.
Profile Image for Lois .
1,759 reviews466 followers
January 12, 2022
I LOVED this.
This takes a few chapters for me to be sucked in.
Once I am though whoa.
The action really picks up about halfway through and the beginning pace makes sense as everything unfolds.
If this starts slowly for you, have patience, its worth the payout.
I impatiently await the next installment in this series.
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