Review of Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers
by B. B. Alston
Intermediate, Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    416 pp.    g
1/21    978-0-06-297516-4    $17.99

Quinton Peters has been missing for six months — no matter what anybody says, his sister Amari knows he’s still alive — and his top-secret job is the reason he’s been away. Sure enough, Amari discovers that Quinton has arranged an interview for her to join the same line of work, which turns out to be the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Plunged into a parallel magical world, Amari must do her best to learn and succeed in this new reality. Her journey becomes more complicated when her aptitude test reveals her to be a Magician, possessing a level of magic deemed dangerous — and illegal. Some of the scrutiny Amari faces mirrors her non-magic life (“It’s kind of like how being a Black kid from the projects makes Mr. Jensen feel the need to watch me extra close every time I come in his store. Or how surprised my scholarship interviewers were that I could speak so well”). Amari has to fight to save her brother and their world — with help from her roommate Elsie (an empathic were-dragon who will probably not eat her), an unlikely ally, and by summoning her own courage, which may be all the magic she needs. The story introduces a world of enchantment, danger, excitement, and humor. While many parallels can be drawn between the protagonist and a certain boy wizard, readers will root for Amari’s own unique determination and wit.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eboni Njoku
Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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