Monday, December 28, 2020

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston – Book Review

Amari and the Night Brothers

Author: B.B. Alston

Genre: Adventure Fantasy, Middle Grade

Publisher: Egmont Books

Publication date: 19 January 2021

Number of pages: 416

ISBN 13:  9780062975164


"What if I told you that living among us are all the things we've come to pass off as myth? Dwarves and sphinxes, mermaids and oddities you could see with your own eyes and still not believe – these and countless more dwell in our towns and walk our streets. One might be your neighbour or even your favourite teacher."

Wow! It's been a LOOOONG time since I read such an exciting book!

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston is the first installment in the Supernatural Investigations Series. AND IT'S AMAZINGGGG!

I was expecting an adventure and fantasy but what I got was tons of humor, snark, bravery, adventure, and not just a touch of fantasy tons of it mixed with all kinds of supernatural and mythological creatures.

Amari Peters is a 13-year-old black girl, living in a low-income housing neighborhood with her mother. Her brother Quinton disappeared a few months prior, supposedly while working.

Amari is constantly bullied in school for coming from a low-income family. Until one day, when Amari gets a visit from a beggar-like-looking-man who asks her to sign for something, says he "won't erase her memory" but that she should check her brother's wardrobe after midnight.

When she does, she finds a suitcase with strange-looking clothes and sunglasses. Putting the sunglasses on, Amari sees her brother in a hologram. He tells her many things but many questions also come to light. Amari is invited to attend a summer bootcamp where, if she succeeds in for several summers, she would be eligible for a scholarship at an Ivy-League university.

"There's a huge part of me that wants to tell her about Quinton's Wakeful Dream. She deserves to know. But how do you explain being visited by your missing brother in a dream where you took a flying boat to go look at some underwater trains without sounding delusional?"

There she discovers a new world of fantasy and mythical creatures living amongst humans. The bootcamp is part of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, an entity and task-force that manages affairs between humans and non-humans, that is the secret world.

This reminded me of how Harry Potter discovered a whole world of magic just surrounding him. Many aspects of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs reminded me of the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter books.

Especially the bureau's Director Van Helsing (yeah those Van Helsings!), who was a lot like Cornelius Fudge. And I'm just going to leave it at that.

There were many parts in Amari and the Night Brothers that reminded me of the Harry Potter books – but the characters and book are significantly different.

There are many interesting and lovable characters in Amari and the Night Brothers including Amari herself, Elsie, Agent Fiona and others. Then there is Lara Van Helsing, a Draco Malfoy-like character (that you can't help but hate) while her brother is something else entirely. And I loved how Amari confronted him about being nice one minute and a meanie the next.

"I try again to think of something I'm really good at. Falling asleep on the sofa after school I doubt the Bureau would have much use for that."

I instantly fell in love with Elsie and not just because she's part dragon. There was lots of character development for Amari and her friends.

There's a ton of humor in almost every chapter and with every character in Amari and the Night Brothers. Here's one after Amari goes to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and meets Agent Magnus.

"Just to be clear…you're having a conversation with the elevator?" I mean, sure I talk to my laptop sometimes when it's not working, but it's never spoken back.

The story is narrated from the first person perspective of Amari herself, a super sarcastic, fun, and brave character.

Amari's sole purpose in joining the Bureau is to uncover what happened to her brother and find him. But…

"I thought for sure that coming here would finally give me some real answers about Quinton, but it's just as big a mystery in the supernatural world as it is back home."

At the Bureau, the students like Amari discover their abilities. But Amari doesn't have an ability or rather she has an illegal ability. She has magic blood. Something deemed by the Bureau as instantly evil. Why? Because of the Night Brothers.

Two brothers who had magic blood like Amari and nearly destroyed the world. One of the brothers is dead but the other lives…

As a black kid, she discriminated against in the known or human world. When she goes to the Bureau, she finds another kind of discrimination, with everybody trying to get her to lose and leave.  

Overall I loved Amari, how she's human, who makes mistakes, how she's intelligent, brave, and creative.

It's the first time I notice or realize a main character as a black girl. And it was both interesting and different. And I laud B.B. Alston for that. That and letting Amari take over the story.

Originally, the author had other plans for Amari but the character pretty much took his writing pen and crafted a world and character of her own.

Overall, I absolutely loved Amari and the Night Brothers and can't wait for other installments to be written and published.

That said, the book doesn't have an open ending. :D


Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I got a free Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston as part of a blog tour with The Write Reads.

Add Amari and the Night Brothers on Goodreads.

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