Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley – HarperCollins – Published 28 April 2015



Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray 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—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

My thoughts

Aza is dying. Slowly but surely. She cannot breathe. Every breath is a struggle against the restraints of time. Aza is snarky and pushes the boundaries, knowing that no one will challenge the dying girl. She thirsts for knowledge, to discover the bizarre and to ignore the strange things she, and no one else, can see and hear. At this point the pace of the book really picks up. Aza dies. 

Suddenly we find ourselves in a world above the clouds, where ships and their crews of Magonians and Rostrae – creatures that are half bird half human – sail the breezes hidden from Earth’s view. Pirates, squallwhales, deception, battles, aerial cities and the magical power of singing. Aza finds herself in a strange and wonderful world, where finally she fits (or at least can breathe properly). But her family is gone, as is her best friend (and maybe something more) Jason, left behind on Earth. And soon Aza discovers that she has long been part of a plot to secure Magonia’s safety and that she has special talents, abilities that caused her so much pain on Earth and have such amazing power in Magonia.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though I struggled to connect to the first 50 or so pages, I was soon drawn into the magic and wonderful mix that is Magonia. Aza’s snark grew on me, as did quirky and equally wonderful Jason. And the bird-human characters, ships that sail the sky and epic sky battles were just a bonus. The summary is right to liken this book to a mix between John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I cannot wait to see where this story could go. I would love to read more about the world of Magonia and its city Maganwetar. Highly enjoyed and highly recommended.

More information

Age guide: Juvenile fiction: ages 13 and up.

Genre: Young adult fantasy.

Themes: Magic. Sickness. Romance. Friendship. Adventure. Family.

Author website: Maria Dahvana Headley

Published: 28 April 2015 by Harper Collins

Pages: 320

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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