Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Fiction
Similar to: The One With The Boy Wizard That We Don’t Talk About Any More – but better!
Could be enjoyed by: Literally everyone
Publication date: 21st January 2021
“So this is Christmas
And what have you done…”
Well John Lennon, I have yet again overloaded myself with stress as Christmas looms large and as usual I am thoroughly unprepared. Between work/volunteering/shopping/house renovation/looking after one broken boyfriend etc. I also found myself helping to coordinate the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards, being a judge myself aaaaand I signed up to a blog tour without looking at the date and then realised my spot was less then a week before Christmas Day. So, I am hurridly trying to navigate this God-awful block editor thingy whilst trying to do justice to one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time.
(Thank goodness it’s a good one!)
You see, Amari and the Night Brothers is just SO AMAZING that I even finished reading it during the tail end of a migraine. It is fun and exciting and has great representation and it’s fast paced and inventive and clever and thoroughly, utterly engaging. It’s the story of Amari Peters, a young black girl living with her mum who is struggling to make ends meet. She’s a misfit – bullied at school, trying to be good for her overworked, underpaid mother and worried about her brother Quinton who has recently gone missing. However, a super-weird, mysterious event leads her to discover a whole world that she didn’t know about – full of magical encounters, mysterious beasts and a terrifying battle for power that Amari ends up being right at the heart of. But as a total outsider, how will Amari cope? Is she always destined to be a misfit?
Answer: you’ll have to read the book to find out. This is a spoiler free zone!
I will say though that it’s not always easy for Amari for numerous reasons but with some great friends and family she goes on one hell of an adventure. I loved the way that despite all of the obstacles, there was always someone there to help her out and this led to some fantastic representations of female friendship, male/female friendship WITHOUT falling in love, family bonds, sibling love, community… I could go on. There’s lots of staying true to yourself even though everyone else thinks you’re weird, finding your tribe (turns out that’s with a dragon) and choosing between good and evil. However, the book is never moralistic or preachy. Amari is such a likeable, realistic individual that her choices seem completely believable and true to her nature.
I loved that Amari was a black female character and there’s a really lovely foreward from the author explaining why her chose to represent her in that way. I noticed that in one chapter, a new character was introduced as being white and I found that slightly jarring – then I realised that’s because it hardly ever happens. So often, white is seen as the default so I loved seeing that assumption challenged. It was a tiny thing but it really hit home for me.
I thought that B. B. Alston did a fantastic job of world building – it must be so complicated to have to write about a magical alternate reality without doing a massive info dump but it was handled really well. So often, I read fantasy where creatures – and trust me, this book has a lot of ’em – are either over depicted, with paragraphs of descriptions that are too complicated to imagine or you’re not given enough detail, leaving you with a bit of a blank. However, I thought the characterisation was spot on. The pacing was great – ranging from fast to full throttle as the storyline progressed – and I was fully invested from start to finish.
Amari and the Night Brothers was a wonderful, inventive, fantastical journey with brilliant representation, fabulous characters and I was so engrossed in its magical spell that I simply couldn’t put down – even with a killer headache!
Five “where’s the paracetamol, I need another chapter!” out of five.
Amazing. Magical. Awesome. Real. Inspiring.
(See what I did there?)
Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Dave at The Write Reads and Egmont Books UK. Thanks everyone!