I was granted complimentary access to Wings of Ebony via NetGalley for review purposes. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
About the Book
Wings of Ebony
Wings of Ebony Book One
by J. Elle
Published 26 January 2021
Denene Millner Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 368
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
“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.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Consider liking my review on Goodreads.
Rue is a girl caught between worlds. She grew up in a rough neighbourhood called East Row in Houston with her mother and younger half-sister, but when her mother was murdered and her sister placed in foster care, Rue was swept away to Ghizon by her up until that moment absent father. He tells her she belongs in this magical world and this is where she’s spent the last year or so skipping magic classes and wishing she could just go back home and be with her sister. When her tech geek friend makes her a gadget that allows her to go home unnoticed, Rue saves her sister from a car accident and accidentally sets off a chain of events that will change the face of both East Row and Ghizon forever.
Rue is an immediately likable, relatable character. I truly appreciate that this teen girl in a teen book thinks like a teen, and Rue behaves exactly as I would expect an older teen in her position to behave. She’s stubborn and defiant, she rejects this man who calls himself her father, and she just wants to be reunited with the one living family member she has left from before her world turned upside down. I also love the way her inner voice responds to her Ghizon friend’s reaction to the big revelation that involves severe wrongs done against a black civilization in this other world. “It’s not my job to unpack that for her” is so beautifully blunt and honest, and I think a lot of teens (and adults) reading this book need to hear that and apply it to their own life.
I really like how the ancestral magic Rue learns to use has so much to do with ancestry and acknowledging those who came before her and how much that contrasts with the magic being taught by the grey leaders in Ghizon who treat it like some basic skill everyone learns to do but some have been forbidden from doing, like holding a driver’s license. It’s just some mundane, given thing that no one really respects.
I do wish Rue had given Aasim (her father) the time of day a lot earlier than she did. As she learns late in the book, they could have been spending all this time bonding and making up for lost time, and he’s much more sorry and heartbroken for being absent than she thought, but I also get it. She’s a teenage girl on the cusp of womanhood who spent her whole life in East Row watching her mother and her found family around her struggle to get by and always thought her father didn’t want to be her father. That’s not something you forgive and forget easily.
There’s so much more I want to talk about but I don’t want to spoil anything at all, so just let me promise you that this book is worth the read! If you’re a fan of fantasy, particularly YA fantasy, or if you’re looking for great books that handle #ownvoices issues with unstoppable female leads, read this! I can’t wait for the next book!
About the Author
NOTE: Information gathered from Goodreads.
J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. Wings of Ebony is her first novel.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.