Magonia by Maria Davhana Headley (2015)
Magonia is a debut novel and the start to a series. It has been getting enough buzz and attention this year that it hardly needs an introduction. This book does a lot of things well. I like that, although it shifts when the story gets rolling, that Aza starts the story with a serious illness that she has to navigate. She does so admirably and capably. Her first person narration is breezy and conversational. The characters and story are incredibly well-drawn.
Unfortunately, none of that gets a chance to shine in the beginning of the novel because Aza’s narrative is structured more as a stream of consciousness with a lot of bluster and almost no relevant information or plot development. Aza’s voice also never felt quite authentic enough instead it felt like reading a character who was trying very, very hard to sound like a real teenager.
Because of the narrative style, the novel is very slow to get to any element of fantasy which probably makes Magonia a good choice for readers who tend to gravitate toward contemporary stories. With a style and voice reminiscent of Jude in I’ll Give You the Sun, Aza and Magonia are sure to find their fans and possibly even introduce new readers to the fantasy genre.