In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry and must save both the human and god worlds. Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games!
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
Thank you immensely to Literary Bound Tours, NYT Best-Selling Author J. Elle, and Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour schedule here!
The story in Wings of Ebony is truly unlike anything I have ever seen before. Rue is a black girl with magic. She is the main character. Her culture and her struggles were not erased on the page. Many times I see black characters written into books as an afterthought and there is no depth to the character at all. With Rue, I felt everything she felt through these pages. The racism she experiences, her struggle with being a part of a diaspora and finding her roots, her everyday struggles with her hair. J. Elle did not miss a beat. The story is a fantastically developed tale that doesn’t shy away from the hard topics that black people have to go through in their community. The incorporation of magic into daily black struggles is something that I never knew I needed until now. I became so used to reading about white MC’s with wonderful magic powers that I forgot that black girls were more than capable of wielding this magic too. Wings of Ebony reminds us all that the black community matters when it comes to literature. Being able to read about someone who looks like you in Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult Fiction is just so important for black readers. Our community deals with so much in the world and having something to and give us hope is just priceless.
The world of Ghizon itself was well developed and I cannot wait to see more of it in book 2. J. Elle’s blend of fantasy and sci-fi elements reminded me of Black Panther and her descriptions are done so well that I could clearly picture where Rue was in the story. The social system presented also represents a lot of the racist structures that are in place today as well. This created a very believable settings and reinforced the themes that J. Elle presented throughout her debut.
The character development of Rue as well as another character I won’t name (because spoilers) just solidified the fact that this would be a 5-star read for me. As a character, I liked Rue a lot in the beginning when we are first introduced to her, however, I fell in love with Rue while watching her develop into the young woman she is at the end of Wings of Ebony. Rue’s character development did not happen overnight in the course of the story. It was a slow process with wonderful build. I felt as if I was developing with Rue and by the end of the book Rue was a part of me. I had undergone this epic journey with her and watched her grow from the anger she felt about the things going on in East Row and the responsibilities thrust upon her with no warning. Her realization of who she is and what she is meant to do brought tears to my eyes because while I was falling in love with Rue on the page, Rue was falling in love with herself and her history within the story.
It is so hard to put my feelings for this story down on paper because a lot of it just needs to be felt. Everyone needs to read Wings of Ebony. It seems like we only get a story like this once in while, but hopefully with J. Elle’s breakthrough debut we will see stories like these more often.
A Letter to J. Elle
Hey J. I am so very proud of you for all the accomplishments you have made over these past few months. When you chose me to be a part of Rue’s Crew, I had no idea how much Wings of Ebony would impact my life. The friends I have made and the experiences we have all went through together will stay with me always. I love our little community so much and the thought and love that you poured into it was unlike anything I had ever seen. You laughed with us, you cried with us, and you made us feel a part of something great. Thank you for making this black girl feel seen in the world of fantasy and for making me feel like I did not have to settle for reading stories about magic that only showcased white MCs, with possibly the afterthought of a black side character. I felt Rue’s blackness through these pages and reading about her physical features, her personality, and her mentality made me very happy sad. Happy because I was reading about someone who looked like me, but sad because this was the first time this has happened in my whole lifetime of having a love for reading. You give me the strength and the courage to write a book of my own someday and continue to push for more diversity literature.
Meet the Author
J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a
bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human
development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her
community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in
education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high
school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative
school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks
up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. Wings of Ebony is her first novel.
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