Magonia first caught my attention when I saw it’s beautiful cover. I had no idea what the word “Magonia” meant, but because of the stunning cover, I felt obligated to inspect this book further. From the description I deduced that Magonia had flying ships and possibly, human-bird hybrids; two things I’ve never come across in any of the other books I’ve read. I was definitely intrigued. Though at times I was confused and had a hard time picturing different creatures and how they acted, I absolutely loved Magonia. Maria Dahvana Headley’s imagination and creativeness is through the roof! Magonia is wholly original and enticing.
Aza Ray is a very sick girl. She possesses a disease known as “Aza” (named so because she is the only known person on earth with this disease) that makes it hard for her to breathe. She’s in and out of hospitals all the time and has had multiple death scares. I couldn’t really relate to Aza herself because I’ve never been that severely sick. But I can relate to her family and friend, Jason, who constantly wondered if “this was it”. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone you love trying to battle a sickness. It’s even worse when you have someone like Aza who is young and has a one-of-a-kind medical condition.
Magonia starts off slow by just giving us insight into Aza’s pre-Magonia life, which mostly focuses on her relationships with her sister, parents and Jason. Early on, Aza’s condition gets the worse that it has ever been and she “dies”. At least, that’s what her family and Jason is led to believe. The real truth is that, due to certain circumstances, Aza, a part-bird Magonian, was removed from her home in the sky and swapped, changeling-style with the Ray’s actual daughter. Aza is of course, shocked and disbelieving until she witnesses true Magonians and the power (as in magical) that they, and herself, possess.
The majority of Magonia focuses on Aza coming to terms with her new reality which includes her new/real identity. Needless to say, she has a hard time leaving her old life for her new one. The author gives us a lot of great supporting characters. Some seemed friendly, while others or more like, most of them were hard to get a read on. There are a lot of secret intentions on the ship and Aza needs to walk carefully.
There’s a lot of original terms introduced like squall whales, creatures that also float in the skies, among other things. I had trouble visually picturing some of these new creatures. I would have liked more insight into their origins and better explanations into how they function. Picturing it as just another piece of magic wasn’t good enough for me. I also think I was confused some times because there were info dumps. Both Aza and I were thrust into a new world with new rules that I still don’t fully grasp.
If you like action, magic and flying ships, checkout Magonia. This book is one of a kind!
Thanks HarperCollins for providing us with a copy in return for a honest review.