Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.
Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.
So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.
Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.
I wish I could say that I was courageous. That once I’d created the world of this book, I didn’t panic when Amari popped into my head with her brown skin and curly afro.
Growing up, I’d never seen a main character who looked like me in a fantasy. Surely I can’t tell this story through her eyes, I thought to myself. No one will want to read it. And certainly no one will want to publish it. So I resisted.
Instead I created the typical middle-grade protagonist, a wise-cracking white kid. Because that was realistic. A black kid – a black girl, especially – just wasn’t. I’m sad to say that some time in my thirty-plus years of living, I’d come to believe that there are some adventures people like me don’t get to have. But that manuscript kept stalling after a few chapters, and each time it did, Amari’s annoyed voice would remind me that this was her story.
Exasperated, I finally gave in. And let me tell you, once I did, Amari’s story just flowed. For the first time in my life, I was also telling my story, and the story of the people I grew up with. I hope you enjoy Amari’s story. It’s also my sincere hope that this book sparks your sense of wonder, because that’s what I love most about fantasy.
And for those of you who look different, or feel different, whatever the reason, please know that your uniqueness needn’t be a source of fear and insecurity.
There is great strength and joy to be found in simply accepting and loving yourself for who you are. Because once you do so, you’ll be unstoppable.
This was fantastic! Such a fun, adventure filled read, with elements of Men in Black (but, in grey), fairy tales, monsters, magic, cool science, tech, and y’know dragons! I love dragons.
Amari is a brilliant protagonist, smart, determined, genuine, kind and awesome. Her friends are pretty great too, especially Elsie (see dragons). She’s also black, which is important because they’re aren’t many characters that look like her out there. Which is a shame because it means great stories like this could get missed. So read it, and shout about it.
Hunting for her missing brother, a top secret agent, and trying to prevent an evil magician from destroying the hidden supernatural world with his monsters. All while being a teenage girl looked down on from being poor and a magician. But she rises above the haters (let’s be honest, they’re just idiots) and striking out in her own way, Amari masters her powers and sets out to crack the case.
This might be aimed at younger readers than me, but I loved it and can’t wait to see what Amari’s next case might be. This is a series that could run and run. I’ve already recommended it to a school librarian or two, because I honestly think there’s loads of readers out there who’d love this.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.