Review: ‘Magonia’ by Maria Dahvana Headley

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 stars

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‘Maria Dahvana Headley’s soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?’

Aza is nearly sixteen years old and very ill. The mysterious disease leaves her struggling to breathe and the doctors didn’t believe she would make it through childhood. Jason is her best friend and always by her side. Until one day, after some dramatic and heartbreaking events, Aza is pulled out from her life amongst her friend Jason and her family, to find herself in Magonia.
Magonia is a beautiful place above the clouds where ships sail and creatures like rostrae, squallwhales and canwr exist. In Magonia Aza can, for the first time in her life, breathe freely. While learning how to live in this new world and figuring out who she can trust, she begins a journey of finding herself.

Maria Dahvana Headley has managed to create a unique fantasy world. Her descriptions make it easy to imagine Magonia and its trading ships that float across the sky. The two main characters Aza and Jason are brilliantly thought out, well developed and I grew very fond of them after only a few chapters. The story is switching between Aza’s and Jason’s point of view and it works well with the flow of the story. The only thing I could criticise, if I was really picky, is that some of what happens up in Magonia can be a little hard to follow, because some of the political background is a bit vague.

Nonetheless, Maria Dahvana Headley’s Magonia is a great read and I definitely recommend it. I would love a sequel!

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