It may be early in the piece, but I’m calling it. Best Middle Grade of the YEAR!!! Bold claim? You must not have read it yet. This gave me HP sorting hat and Minitry of Magic vibes at the begining but it is SO much more.
Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?
Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.
Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.
With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had all the fantastical magic, mystery and twists you could ever want in a middle grade fantasy. Or rather a fantasy, period.
The characters were well fleshed out and loveable. Amari and Quintin are from a rough neighbourhood. Amari is rough around the edges. This is fair enough, but she is also brilliant academically and street smart. I love that. I believe this story will help a lot of young kids feel seen around the world.
People assume stuff about you based on things you can’t change about yourself. So I just do my best to prove them wrong, to be the person they’re not expecting. Amari Peters, changing minds one person at a time.
This quote just gave me all the wholesome goodness I needed to get me through the rest of the month and I had to share it here. I think it speaks so well to who Amari is as a character, her strength and determination, and what we can look forward to in future books.
The secret world hidden within our own that B.B Alston has created is very well done. I like the layered aspect of the magical world being within our own but not so removed. It made it more realistic to me as I use to pretend that was the case when I was a kid, back when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
The pacing is fairly faced paced and I didn’t want to put it down until the very last page. I then read the acknowledgements, which is something I’m finding I’m doing this year. No reason why it just seems important to do all of a sudden.
The plot is fun and has a fair few plot twists. I managed to pick most of them butbthat last one!!! Didn’t think it would quote go down like that. Wow!!
Have you read Amari and the Night Brothers? Let me know what you thought in the comments