Title: Wings of Ebony
Author: J. Elle
Pub. Date: January 26th 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Pages: 368 pages
🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤“𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑢𝑧𝑧𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑦 𝑝𝑢𝑚𝑝𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦. 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑛𝑜 𝑜𝑛𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑚𝑒 – 𝑏𝑢𝑡 ℎ𝑖𝑚. 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑚𝑦 ℎ𝑜𝑚𝑒. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒.”
Wings of Ebony is a debut YA Fantasy set between the mortal world in Houston and the magical world of Ghizon. Our MC Rue has just witnessed her mother’s murder when a father she never knew comes to take her away. Rue is a Demigod. Her sister Tasha who has a different father, is not. Separated from her sister & the only home she’s known, Rue must adapt in Ghizon. She has a whole lot of bottled up emotions and she’s done holding back. On the one year anniversary of her mother’s death she breaks Ghizon law by returning to Houston to see her sister. She finds that her sister & other black & POC kids from the neighborhood have unwillingly been roped into street crime & violence. This book tackled some hard hitting issues affecting inner city youth, specifically black & POC families. Kids whose parents work long hours to survive while the neighborhood looks after one another. “It takes a village to raise a child” is a quote that comes to mind when reading Wings of Ebony and Rue loves her village. She’s angry at how the youth are portrayed whenever the news covers a shooting, and at how cops turn the other way. I was rooting for Rue, Tasha & all the neighborhood kids to take back their home. Rue is a no nonsense straight shooter who is loyal to her roots, she’s unapologetically going to take back what was once taken from her and for that alone, she is a stand-out memorable kick a** MC!
Wings of Ebony will absolutely appeal to fans of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, written in a raw authentic voice that invokes a range of emotions. J. Elle puts a spotlight on the issues plaguing black and brown communities in cities like Houston. Families that are forced to make a choice between staying home to watch the kids or put food on the table. The concept of the neighborhood’s older grandmothers watching over the youth is a very real one that I for one can relate to having been raised by two working parents with no child care. The frustration Rue feels, her mixed feelings when it comes to asking for help from the cops is as real as it gets. I felt the author captured what inner city life looks like for a lot of working families in these neighborhoods.
This story however takes place between two worlds, it’s a Fantasy set in Ghizon AND Houston. Here is where I felt the story took some hits, the pacing was off and so the time we actually spend in Ghizon is limited. I would’ve gladly read this book if it were 500 pages if it meant that Ghizon were more fleshed out and the magic system better explained. Things take a turn around the 65% mark for the better but by then I did feel we were rushing towards a conclusion. We get introduced to a love interest in the midst of a revolution which I personally could’ve done without OR seen it introduced in the next book. I also wish the relationship between Rue and her father was better explored, it’s understandable she has a TON of mixed emotions towards him…we just don’t see enough father/daughter relationships in books. Although I felt the Fantasy aspects of this book were a bit under developed, I honestly feel based off the last 40% that the follow up will build on what we’ve seen here. I did secure a finished copy from Barnes & Nobles which is offering bonus content I feel would be a shame to miss out on because they’re letters from Rue’s Dad & Book Lovers! I balled my eyes out!!! the letters also include some sketches that are pretty dope!
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