Author – J. Elle
Publisher – Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers / Denene Millner Books
Publish Date – 26th Jan 2021
Genre – YA Fantasy / Urban Fantasy
POV – First Person
Pages – 367
Rue, dealt with the tragedy of losing her mother, is quickly whisked away from everyone she knows and loves, including her little sister. Her father, who she has never met until now, forces her to Ghizon, a secret island full of magic, and Rue hates almost everything about it. Breaking the rules to see her little sister, Rue returns to East Row to discover that her community is being targeted. Torn between the two sides of herself and her loyalties, Rue must get to the bottom of the evil that’s stealing from her beloved East Row and Ghizon, the roots of her godly ancestral powers.
Wings of Ebony does wonderfully in the way it handles Rue who is brave, fiercely determined, independent, conflicted and unapologetically herself. It shows Rue dealing with the complexities of the combined experience of her life in a Black American neighbourhood and the white Ghizon, and how her being black similarly colours her experiences in both places. The link between the magical world and colonisation, and the handling of racism and the loss the two come with was particularly powerful and not shied away from. Rue and her experience are my favourite things about this book.
The plot was fast paced and kept you turning quickly through the pages. However, what I found it lacked was the worldbuilding and magic which never really felt fully realised to me. Ghizon failed to feel as real and visceral as East Row. The magic only felt better developed much later in the story, throughout most of the book it seemed to kind of just happen with a few loose rules around it and not much explanation. Perhaps in its defence it was going for simple or the book was too short to delve into these things deeper but unfortunately, I found myself asking a lot of ‘why’ questions that detracted from being in the story.
Overall I’d still really love to see more of Rue and her story, and hope that more of these things will feel fully realised in another instalment.
3/5 – A fast paced fantasy with real world bite.