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

Amari and the Night Brothers

Author: B.B. Alston

Publication Date: 19 January 2021

Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy

Pages: 416

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Life for 12 year old Amari Peters is difficult to say the least. She’s a Black girl being raised in low income housing by a single mom that works 60+ hours per week. She attends an elite school on scholarship, but that may all be down the toilet thanks to the bullies who have made her life a living hell following the mysterious disappearance of her older brother Quinton.

Quinton was the school’s golden boy, but no one cares that he’s missing. The police have given up and everyone assumes that he must have taken up illegal activity. Everything changes when Amari discovers a magical world that may finally have the answers surrounding Quinton’s disappearance.

This is the story that I wish I grew up with. I loved the secret world of magic and the unique way that students are tapped in order to join the order. The world building is incredible. There’s different levels of magic and magical abilities as well as career paths based off of the type of magic a student harvests.

Since Amari was completely ignorant to this world, you get to experience the magic and wonder alongside her which makes for a truly immersive experience. There is so much action and adventure along the way, which makes for one heck of a roller coaster ride.

I loved loved Amari’s character. She’s independent, fierce, and unwilling to be swayed by those who would detract her from finding out the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. In addition to Amari, I loved her roommate Elsie, who is a weredragon. Elsie is the perfect complement to Amari’s personality; especially since Elsie is an outsider even in the magical world since not everyone is keen on potentially being eaten or burnt to a crisp.

Overall, if you are looking for a magical and adventurous coming of age story that features some serious Black girl magic then definitely pick this one up!

Thank you to HarperCollins for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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