Russell’s ambitious story pulses with what readers want from the genre: palace intrigue, family secrets, grueling training exercises, and dramatic events all involving an engaging cast and set against a fresh and vivid alien world. The Delions are not only rumored to have kidnapped Zaed women for a nefarious breeding program, but also possess a device that can transport them to another planet called Earth. After a tragedy involving his wife and unborn child, Vasco plots to attack the Delions and steal the device. Meanwhile, Zaed Lieutenant Kov who escaped from the Delions is acting strangely. And Blahom is preoccupied by two love interests: the intense warrior Jhapalle and Rasheed, the flirty easy-going adopted son of her uncle.
A welcome focus on black characters as the protagonists and heroes, and convincingly detailed rituals and world building overcome minor flaws in storytelling, such as a tendency toward exposition, some uneven pacing, and some plot threads left to be picked up in future volumes. Still, there’s much here that dazzles, and young adult readers and fans of unique fantasy cultures will enjoy this majestic new mythology. QR codes embedded in the text link to additional material available to club members.
Takeaway: Plucky Goddess Warriors defend their planet in this epic debut.
Comparable Titles: Alechia Dow’s A Song of Salvation, Maura Milan’s Ignite the Stars.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A