Hello Gemmies! I am so excited to participate in the TBR and Beyond Book Blitz for Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron. This book was so much fun. I loved everything about it, from the characters, to the magic, to the action, and the sweet father/daughter relationship. It is my pleasure to help spread the word for this middle grade fantasy. First up on the tour is my book review...enjoy!
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 22, 2020
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.
This was such an enjoyable read! Maya and the Rising Dark is a fun mythology/urban fantasy full of great characters and action. Let's start with the cover...GORGEOUS! Maya is super cute and I love the bright and dusky color scheme. I wish I had a book like this to read when I was in middle grade, with a protagonist I can identify with, and a mythology I grew up with. Orishas are not only in African mythology but also Latinx mythology, specifically the Afro-Latinx community. I was really excited to see them represented in this story. The pacing was good, but sometimes felt a little rushed.
This world Rena Barron has created is absolutely brilliant. There are beautifully detailed alternate worlds, a complex magical system, scary creatures, and fierce gods! It feels real and totally unique. If you love fantasies, epic adventures, stories about friendship, and believe in kick ass heroines, then this book is for you!
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, this gem is available for purchase from all major booksellers. I give Maya and the Rising Dark 4 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait to read more stories set in this universe. Happy Reading!