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Wings of Ebony

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“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders. Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, w “Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders. Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life. Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.


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“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders. Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, w “Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders. Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life. Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

30 review for Wings of Ebony

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sabaa Tahir

    I loved this book so much. I loved badass, beautiful Rue, who was sometimes brave and sometimes questioned herself, just like all of us. I loved Rue's relationship with her sister and the people of her old neighborhood. Occasionally with urban fantasy, authors rely too much on our familiarity with the modern world, and don't create a sense of originality and depth in their worldbuilding. That's not the case with J. Elle. Her worldbuilding is intriguing and layered, leaving you with the feeling t I loved this book so much. I loved badass, beautiful Rue, who was sometimes brave and sometimes questioned herself, just like all of us. I loved Rue's relationship with her sister and the people of her old neighborhood. Occasionally with urban fantasy, authors rely too much on our familiarity with the modern world, and don't create a sense of originality and depth in their worldbuilding. That's not the case with J. Elle. Her worldbuilding is intriguing and layered, leaving you with the feeling that you absolutely MUST see more of this place. At the same time, the pace is breakneck--this book is VERY difficult to put down. Add it to your TBR!

  2. 5 out of 5

    ♠ TABI⁷ ♠

    AYYY LOOK AT THAT COVER MKAY WOW no one convince me that this isn't the reincarnation of Rue from The Hunger Games because I'm just gonna live happily in this headcanon of mine AYYY LOOK AT THAT COVER MKAY WOW no one convince me that this isn't the reincarnation of Rue from The Hunger Games because I'm just gonna live happily in this headcanon of mine

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    The problem I often find with short fantasy novels is that there’s just not enough time to develop a believable world. I was really looking forward to Wings of Ebony, so I'm sad it underwhelmed me. I had a hard time connecting to the characters, and discovered that the magic and worldbuilding elements really fell flat for me. Before I begin with my criticisms, I feel I should say this: Wings of Ebony is not a terrible book. Sure, some parts of the story weren’t as great as I expected, though I se The problem I often find with short fantasy novels is that there’s just not enough time to develop a believable world. I was really looking forward to Wings of Ebony, so I'm sad it underwhelmed me. I had a hard time connecting to the characters, and discovered that the magic and worldbuilding elements really fell flat for me. Before I begin with my criticisms, I feel I should say this: Wings of Ebony is not a terrible book. Sure, some parts of the story weren’t as great as I expected, though I seem to be in the clear minority with my rating. That being said, take my review with a grain of salt, as the vast majority have discovered a profound love for this tale. ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ After the death of her mother, Rue discovers her godly ancestry. She is taken to a place called Ghizon where her powers are unlocked, meeting the father she never knew in the process. When her sister back in the real world is endangered, Rue does everything she can to save her, except there’s one problem—she can’t touch humans anymore, or Ghizon’s magical history will be revealed. ~★~ It’s hard for me to discern what I enjoyed about Wings of Ebony, mostly because I began skim reading by the 80% mark. Useless information was doled out in clumps. We learn backstory of different magic factions and go through a sorting ceremony only to realize that none of it is relevant for the rest of the novel. I had a really hard time picturing the magical Ghizon alongside Houston, as not much about it is really described. Kudos to J. Elle for addressing the ever-present problem of racism unapologetically and without remorse. I really appreciated the parallels drawn between the magical world and colonization, plus the discussions about racism. Everything is handled in a way that is immediate and in your face, which is what needs to happen when it comes to these topics. There isn’t much left I can say. This was an objectively decent book. I wish I loved it more. I’m sad I didn’t. Would I recommend it? That’s hard to say. I think other reviewers will help you formulate a better opinion in that regard. Anyways, thanks for reading my review! Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the arc!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Unknown Reviews

    A book about a black girl who is half-human, half-god? Where can I get an advanced copy? :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    Whew! I wasn't ready! This book hit hard! To say Rue has had it hard would be a huge understatement. Still reeling from her mother's death and being whisked away to a foreign land against her will by her father, Rue has escaped back to her old stomping grounds in search of her little sister, Tasha. In Ghizon she's an outsider among gray skinned beings who are nothing like her community back home. East Row gets a bad rep but she loves her neighborhood and would do anything to protect it. Lately i Whew! I wasn't ready! This book hit hard! To say Rue has had it hard would be a huge understatement. Still reeling from her mother's death and being whisked away to a foreign land against her will by her father, Rue has escaped back to her old stomping grounds in search of her little sister, Tasha. In Ghizon she's an outsider among gray skinned beings who are nothing like her community back home. East Row gets a bad rep but she loves her neighborhood and would do anything to protect it. Lately it's like a war zone with people dying left and right and when a dangerous gang targets her sis she knows what she needs to do. The writing is easy to read and J Elle creates an interesting world without an overly complicated magic system. And Rue's strength didn't lie in her magical abilities but her determination to fight for her neighbors. She doesn't try to change herself to fit in to Ghizon. Nor does this book try to change itself to read as safe commentary against race for white people like some social justice YA books do. Rue uses aave and the words she uses aren't always explained. She's proud of her hood and wants to show the world there's more to it than the violent stereotypes. She lives by the mantra of making a way. This book gives commentary on appropriation, colonization, and systematic racism without being overly heavy handed. Wings of Ebony is more magic realism than epic fantasy with much of the story taking place in Houston. But there's hints that Ghizon will be further explored in the sequel. After that intense ending I have to know what's next! I received an arc from Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Longer review https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 5 [ Glimmering, Glistening, GOLD ] Stars 🌟⭐️🌟⭐️🌟 Just... WOW. Wowwowwowwow. THIS WAS... EVERYTHING! So fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I can't... i just can't stop crying! It's a good thing, though. A lush fantasy, BRILLIANTLY written, with so many parallels to our own world, the state it is in... my God this novel is so... NEEDED. SO moving. And yet it is so much more than that. This truly affected me SO MUCH. The sense of humor throughout the novel is incredible as well—it makes Star Rating: —> 5 [ Glimmering, Glistening, GOLD ] Stars 🌟⭐️🌟⭐️🌟 Just... WOW. Wowwowwowwow. THIS WAS... EVERYTHING! So fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I can't... i just can't stop crying! It's a good thing, though. A lush fantasy, BRILLIANTLY written, with so many parallels to our own world, the state it is in... my God this novel is so... NEEDED. SO moving. And yet it is so much more than that. This truly affected me SO MUCH. The sense of humor throughout the novel is incredible as well—it makes this book all the more memorable. It never reads as if it is preaching the issues it tackles, either. I am just absolutely blown AWAY. J. Elle has written an absolute masterpiece that will impact everyone who reads it; I have absolutely NO DOUBT of this. 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻. The MC, Rue, is a QUEEN ! A Black girl from the hood, East Row, who loses her mother, & has her entire life upturned, including finding out that the life of her sister, Tasha, is hanging in the balance. Due to Rue's attempt to save her sister from harm, she accidentally revealed her magic, which is illegal & will result in Tasha's death by the hands of the powers in control of Ghizon. But no way in hell will Tasha die, not if Rue has anything to say about it! In again, trying to save the life of her sister, Rue has made herself a target as well. But she finds strength in her pain, because she was raised to be a strong, to always find a way, even where there seems to be a dead end. As Rue tries to right the wrongs of what has come to pass... she truly comes into her own, and it is quite a journey, filled with magic, mayhem, and above all— love. Elle writes this journey as a most incredible, impactful, & quite meaningful one to embark upon. Rue finds she can find magic in the most unlikely of places She was raised to be a diamond... and a diamond she certainly is, UNBREAKABLE & FIERCE AF. Even when all the cards seem stacked against her— forces from this world AND beyond are determined to destroy her and everyone she loves—she embraces her strength, and never waivers to defend & protect herself, and the ones she has come in both of her worlds strength of her lost mother, & her mother's words always in her head, always pushing her forward, and helping her find her own strength. BUT YET—She is drawn into a magical world, Ghizon, by her magic-wielding father who resides there. Ghizon has problems that mirror our own, injustice & prejudice existing everywhere, due to complex issues that people from the US especially will (hopefully) understand (and I hope that this novel can open more than a few minds to the issues that do exist in real life, as well). Rue swears to prevail, in both her home in East Row in Houston, Texas, & in the secret, God dwelling country of Ghizon. Failure is not an option. Watching her truly come into her own & embracing both worlds was nothing short of inspiring. She is a protagonist to admire; someone to aspire to be like. She is beautiful in so many ways—she is beyond strong, and she will not allow anything to break her. And I won't say anything else— I wouldn't want to spoil this memorable, fantastical, yet also very frighteningly real, adventure of a story for anyone; It is a novel that you need to read & experience. I am still wiping the tears from my eyes. It ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope it is the first in a series, but if not, with my confidence in Rue, I truly have no doubts about what will happen. This is a book that needs to be in EVERY LIBRARY. My God, what a truly important YA novel, yet at the same time a novel that transcends age! I cannot emphasize just how important this novel is. A million times over, I will recommend this book to every single person I know. So, needless to say— 100% recommend 💜

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ayman

    this book was great. it tackles important issues and it’s super action packed. I enjoyed this book completely. I like how fast pace it was. I enjoy short books. I agree that there could have been more world building however it was nothing that bothered me. I can’t wait for a book two I feel like we’re in for another huge ride.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    AHHH THAT TITLE IS PERFECTION Please let me wake up tomorrow and have it be February

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kel

    Rue, the protagonist in Wings of Ebony, is the antitheses of what America would love black girls to be. In a country where black girls are constantly being told to tone it down, Rue is like, bump that, we turning up. J.Elle has written a book that gives us a brave, no-nonsense black girl, blessed with more magic than she knows, and a mind that doesn’t stop until everything makes sense. She doesn’t mince words. She says what’s on her mind, you can pardon her French or not, and asks the hard quest Rue, the protagonist in Wings of Ebony, is the antitheses of what America would love black girls to be. In a country where black girls are constantly being told to tone it down, Rue is like, bump that, we turning up. J.Elle has written a book that gives us a brave, no-nonsense black girl, blessed with more magic than she knows, and a mind that doesn’t stop until everything makes sense. She doesn’t mince words. She says what’s on her mind, you can pardon her French or not, and asks the hard questions until she is satisfied with the answers. We haven’t seen a girl like Rue in YA. [If we have, please point me in her direction] She gives Katniss Everdeen vibes, mostly because we’re not used to reading young female protagonists who are self-sure, brave, pragmatic, tough, etc. (even though hella girls are this way in real life). She’s scared, but never a damsel in distress. Ready to save her own self and everybody else, but a guy can help if he wants. I’m obsessed. The world-building in Houston and in the magical (literally) land of Ghazan is the perfect balance of Contemporary and Afrofuturism. The language and spells used got me so hype and ready to see young fans cosplaying and spell-casting. At the heart of this story is a complicated, heart-rending relationship between a girl and her absent father, and the unavoidable ways in which a father-daughter relationship shapes a girl’s idea of who she is and what she’s capable of. Wings of Ebony also holds a mirror up to racism and colonization in a way that slowly brings the message into focus. It’s not harsh, but it hits real and true and cannot be missed. It also holds a mirror up to non-racist allies who might not realize how much they may subconsciously sympathize with systems of oppression that they benefit from. Rue’s mother raised a diamond. J.Elle wrote a diamond. lol Wings of Ebony is the most precious of gems— all of YA fantasy and every teen who reads it will be better for it. So excited for this debut.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars TW: Police brutality, violence against minors, gore, gun violence, drugs, racism. Please check a booktriggerwarnings.com for a more comprehensive list. I want more fantasy books set in the southern states, I am strictly talking about books set in the U.S. by the way - I’m all for diverse, international settings. We have a plethora of books set along the East Coast and California, we get it, we understand the appeal, but let’s see something different ,please. Also, yes Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars TW: Police brutality, violence against minors, gore, gun violence, drugs, racism. Please check a booktriggerwarnings.com for a more comprehensive list. I want more fantasy books set in the southern states, I am strictly talking about books set in the U.S. by the way - I’m all for diverse, international settings. We have a plethora of books set along the East Coast and California, we get it, we understand the appeal, but let’s see something different ,please. Also, yes, I am from Texas and am absolutely biased and love that this book was set in Houston, TX. Bonus, it’s an urban fantasy which I am a complete sucker for. Rue is fabulous, strong, competent and loyal, but she also infuriated me like no other. Communication is key folks! I mean I get it, I wouldn’t be too keen to have a heart-to-heart with the man I thought abandoned me either. This is definitely an Aasim call-out, because communication works both ways, and I need people to share their thoughts, not keep them hidden away so others can speculate. So, don’t get me wrong I was super interested in Rue’s life in her Houston community and the juxtaposition with New Ghizon, but I also had a hard time truly capturing New Ghizon’s essence. With time the setting became a bit more clear, but honestly I feel like the description of the people was described well, but the setting still has me a little confused. Is it modern, is it steam-punk - I’m uncertain. There were a few elements I wanted to see developed further, but since this is a duology I have high hopes things will be more concise and clear in the sequel. I noticed a few tidbits of information that were stated that had me side-eyeing the storyline, so I’m curious to see if my inklings develop. The pacing was also a little off-kilter for me, some parts felt really well done and explained, while other moments felt a bit rushed. I wouldn’t have minded if this book had been a bit longer to enable more clarity and development. That’s pretty much what kept it from getting four stars from me. Sometimes I felt like I was missing something, or we would get to a pretty pivotal moment and then it would just be over, so the emotional impact wasn’t fully savored. I am not a fan of love triangles, maybe I would just rather the characters be polyamours, maybe it’s the execution? Truly, I am not sure what it is, but they really bug me and I’m crossing my fingers that we don’t have one develop here. That’s my own preference though, and it didn’t affect my rating. The sister dynamic in this novel was wonderful though, and I love that even though Tasha is twelve she isn’t dumbed down. Children are competent and aware, and unfortunately, some have to mature faster than others, but they are still children. I think this was highlighted well, and with care. J. Elle definitely hit the nail on the head with how she handled racism and social injustices. Characters were left to figure things out on their own, without coddling from their Black counterparts. Notice, how I’m saying Black and not POC, this story isn’t about all POC, Rue is from a predominantly Black neighborhood. Sure, there are probably some similarities that can be shared amongst different groups, but since this story is focused on Rue’s community, please, don’t lump us all under the POC umbrella when you are speaking about a particular group. I promise you it is not a crime to say Black. If YOU want to learn and grow, then YOU have to put in the work. Yeah, sometimes people aren’t aware, although in real life situations it’s time we all start waking up and acknowledging our various spheres of privilege. Stop making the marginalized and oppressed make you feel better, figure out your feelings and do better. Period. Also, racists are racist, they aren’t misunderstood, they aren’t [enter whatever excuse people use to excuse harmful actions]. Their hatred has real-life implications, trauma-inducing effects on people’s lives. So let’s stop trying to worry about making sure the people doing the harm feel supported and start uplifting and supporting those who have been abused, overlooked, and marginalized. That’s the messaging you're going to get in this book, and I’m glad about it too. We don’t need any more books sugar-coating the crap some of us have to deal with, and I’m not saying I have had it nearly as bad as some of the people in this story, but it’s not the oppression olympics. Being the recipient of racism sucks, no matter the severity. I’m looking forward to the sequel, and can’t wait to see what Rue does next. A lot of things are revealed, but there is still a lot left up in the air. There are a few characters I’d liked to “kick in the shin” yeah, that’s a PC statement, so hopefully they get their shins aggressively kicked in book two. :) *This is an Own Voices review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mashlovesbooks

    Happy publishing day to this beautiful work of Art!!🎉😘🎊 4.5 stars “Bullets don’t have names. But if they did, chances are one would have mine. Or someone brown-skinned like me.” Wings of Ebony, J. Elle That's the first line of the book and if that doesn't tell you exactly how good the book is then I don't know what will. I really enjoyed this book and managed to finish it in two days, despite having a mountain load of school work. I just could not put it down. J. Elle managed to make such a fascinati Happy publishing day to this beautiful work of Art!!🎉😘🎊 4.5 stars “Bullets don’t have names. But if they did, chances are one would have mine. Or someone brown-skinned like me.” Wings of Ebony, J. Elle That's the first line of the book and if that doesn't tell you exactly how good the book is then I don't know what will. I really enjoyed this book and managed to finish it in two days, despite having a mountain load of school work. I just could not put it down. J. Elle managed to make such a fascinating protagonist, I couldn't get enough of her. Rue was strong and smart but the reason I liked her was because of how honest she was. No sugar coating or unnecessary niceties. She wasn't afraid to call people out and also didn't lie to herself, which I think is a very valuable characteristic. The plot was great and well developed, there was always something going on and I didn’t get bored for a second. I enjoyed going from Rue’s hometown to Ghazan and seeing the differences and similarities between both places. My only problem with this book was the world building. I have said in my previous reviews of other fantasy books that I believe the most important foundation of a book is its world building. Overall, this book just felt a little lacking in the world building area but I'm sure it is going to be made up for in the next novel for this series. I recommend this to fans of fast-paced YA fantasy novels that deal with racism and descrimination. I'm going to devour the next book in this series once it comes out. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster publishing for this (e)ARC. **Disclaimer** This is all personal opinion and is in no way intended to harass or offend anyone. If I do, I sincerely apologize (also, let me know so I can fix the offensive content, thank you!). Blog Pinterest

  12. 4 out of 5

    birdie

    it didn't take a lot for me to cry over this book. i think the tears started streaming when i was on...page 2? call me a cry baby but i call that J. Elle's talent. this book was written in such a pure and raw way, it made me emotionally instantly. the story and Rue's feelings literally swallowed me entirely. i'd like someone to pay for my tissues from now on, at least when reading books like this because let me tell you: they are running out FAST. the tears are not all i love about this book, of c it didn't take a lot for me to cry over this book. i think the tears started streaming when i was on...page 2? call me a cry baby but i call that J. Elle's talent. this book was written in such a pure and raw way, it made me emotionally instantly. the story and Rue's feelings literally swallowed me entirely. i'd like someone to pay for my tissues from now on, at least when reading books like this because let me tell you: they are running out FAST. the tears are not all i love about this book, of course. it's just so powerful and important and it gives me so much hope, too, for some reason. i shall be counting down the days to the sequel i guess...when we get a publication day. you can read my full review on my blog by clicking here! blog | bookstagram | more

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nikki S

    *7/3/2019* Listen, if you know me, you KNOW this is EVERYTHING I could want in a book. And that's just from the description. Pitched as Wonder Woman and The Hate U Give in a Wakandan world? Can I have it now please? PLEASE????? *7/9/2020* And now in the synopsis it says "a Black teen in Houston" and OMG IF THIS ISN'T ME!!!!!! It keeps getting better and better! I need this yesterday! How can I make this happen?! *1/31/2021* I saw the audio is narrated by Bahni Turpin and I decided that's how I need t *7/3/2019* Listen, if you know me, you KNOW this is EVERYTHING I could want in a book. And that's just from the description. Pitched as Wonder Woman and The Hate U Give in a Wakandan world? Can I have it now please? PLEASE????? *7/9/2020* And now in the synopsis it says "a Black teen in Houston" and OMG IF THIS ISN'T ME!!!!!! It keeps getting better and better! I need this yesterday! How can I make this happen?! *1/31/2021* I saw the audio is narrated by Bahni Turpin and I decided that's how I need to experience this. I'm going to wait on the audio because I feel like this is something I just need to experience! *2/19/2021* Definitely worth the hype. The under lying issue at hand itself is worth it. Real review to come.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Reisinger

    Wings of Ebony is a fast-paced adventure filled with determination and heartbreak. Following the journey of Rue--a fiery, compassionate young woman who can't seem to guard her heart against the cry of her community and her people--reminds us what it means to be so quintessentially human. The story is a beautifully woven tapestry layered with meaning and purpose. If you don't come out the other side a changed person, I don't think you were reading it properly. Wings of Ebony is a fast-paced adventure filled with determination and heartbreak. Following the journey of Rue--a fiery, compassionate young woman who can't seem to guard her heart against the cry of her community and her people--reminds us what it means to be so quintessentially human. The story is a beautifully woven tapestry layered with meaning and purpose. If you don't come out the other side a changed person, I don't think you were reading it properly.

  15. 4 out of 5

    jenny✨

    i got this as an arc today and i'm crying. this is without a doubt one of my most anticipated debuts of 2021. Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for making this dream come true. All thoughts—when posted—will be my own! i got this as an arc today and i'm crying. this is without a doubt one of my most anticipated debuts of 2021. Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for making this dream come true. All thoughts—when posted—will be my own!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    This is one of those situations where I don’t think my review will do this book justice. There are literally too many incredibly important topics covered in a raw and unflinching manner. Following the senseless murder of her mother, Rue is unexpectedly uprooted from her life in Houston’s East Row to the hidden magical island of Ghizon (tucked off the coast of Africa). The problem is that Rue’s 12 year old sister Tasha was left behind and East Row is becoming even more dangerous. Rue is the chara This is one of those situations where I don’t think my review will do this book justice. There are literally too many incredibly important topics covered in a raw and unflinching manner. Following the senseless murder of her mother, Rue is unexpectedly uprooted from her life in Houston’s East Row to the hidden magical island of Ghizon (tucked off the coast of Africa). The problem is that Rue’s 12 year old sister Tasha was left behind and East Row is becoming even more dangerous. Rue is the character that I wish I saw on the page growing up. She’s authentic, fierce, loyal, and unwilling to be intimidated when it comes to both danger and injustice. Rue never forgets the hood that she came from and those who helped even when the opportunity to wield magic is more than a bit enticing. When I said this book tackles a myriad of important topics, I was in no way exaggerating. There’s racism, gentrification, colonization, performative allyship, abandonment, oppression, cultural appropriation…just to name a few. This book is a heavy hitter, but it is incredible. From start to finish, this book is a nonstop, action packed page turner that also manages to tug at your heartstrings. The world building is lush (especially when you learn the truth in Ghizon), and the magic system is fascinating. There’s so many things at play, and I don’t want to give spoilers, so I will leave it at that. Thank you to Simon Teen for providing a copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ahaana ☽

    Wings of Ebony is a powerful, unflinching debut that isn’t afraid to address critical issues in today’s world under an honest light. Important themes such as Racism, and Gang Violence are highlighted throughout the book, and are given the attention they deserve. Along with this, we see multiple journeys of self discovery and exploration, that help make the characters feel so much more relatable, and will have you gripping the edge of your seat, wondering if they’ll make it out the next time. Raw Wings of Ebony is a powerful, unflinching debut that isn’t afraid to address critical issues in today’s world under an honest light. Important themes such as Racism, and Gang Violence are highlighted throughout the book, and are given the attention they deserve. Along with this, we see multiple journeys of self discovery and exploration, that help make the characters feel so much more relatable, and will have you gripping the edge of your seat, wondering if they’ll make it out the next time. Raw, and beautiful, Wings of Ebony is a debut I was greatly moved by, and one that is sure to impact you too. READ THE FULL REVIEW ON MY BLOG!

  18. 5 out of 5

    SE

    Sometimes you read a book and you think "oh, that was fun" and never really think about it again. Then, there are times you read a book and you think "wow, this is going to really TOUCH people out there." This was one of those latter times. There is such an accessible and cinematographic quality to J.Elle's writing which sucks you in from the start. And you start by thinking this is going to be a fun quest story about magic and hidden worlds. Then as the story gets deeper, you start to feel the Sometimes you read a book and you think "oh, that was fun" and never really think about it again. Then, there are times you read a book and you think "wow, this is going to really TOUCH people out there." This was one of those latter times. There is such an accessible and cinematographic quality to J.Elle's writing which sucks you in from the start. And you start by thinking this is going to be a fun quest story about magic and hidden worlds. Then as the story gets deeper, you start to feel the emotional punch of the story, and realize this story is so much more than what is seems on the surface. There is beauty and pain, courage and loyalty, magic and reality loaded into this book; and I just know it's going to be a favourite for so many young people out there who--like Rue--are also fighting the good fight, every day.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jamie (TheRebelliousReader)

    ”Moms raised a diamond and diamonds don't crack.” 5 stars. Talk about a strong debut. My goodness. This was easily a five star book for me. This review is going to be long and full of rambling so buckle up. This book was unapologetically Black af and I absolutely loved it. From the way that it’s written, the culture, to the way the characters spoke it was all very Black. The characters speak in AAVE and they don’t code switch* their way of speaking at all depending on who they’re talking to w ”Moms raised a diamond and diamonds don't crack.” 5 stars. Talk about a strong debut. My goodness. This was easily a five star book for me. This review is going to be long and full of rambling so buckle up. This book was unapologetically Black af and I absolutely loved it. From the way that it’s written, the culture, to the way the characters spoke it was all very Black. The characters speak in AAVE and they don’t code switch* their way of speaking at all depending on who they’re talking to which I thought was a great choice from the author. The main character, Rue, and just about every other character with the exception of a few speak in AAVE. *Code switching, according to Oxford Languages, is the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation.* My mom code switches on the phone depending on how she feels and so does my brother but it’s something I’ve never cared to do. But also the two of them have thicker southern accents than me. Speaking of the south, this book is set in Houston, Texas and you can tell the author grew up there just from the way she describes everything and brings everything to life. I had no trouble at all picturing the places she was talking about. And the fantasy world of Ghizon was just as developed and vivid. I’m super impressed with what Elle was able to do with the world building in a book that was less than 400 pages long. Most first fantasy books tend to be in the 400+ page range but she packs a lot into this and I never felt that anything was rushed or felt underdeveloped. The writing flowed really well and made for a smooth and addicting read. There’s a lot of great action scenes in this, especially towards the end. Rue is a character that I can see how she wouldn’t be for everyone. She thinks she knows it all and she runs on emotions. She jumps into action before thinking it through but all of those things made me like her. It was easy to understand why she was that way and on top of that her character development was really strong. I thought she was a strong heroine who only wanted to protect her loved ones. ”Moms said a second chance ain’t nothing to waste. That people who look like us, who come from where we come from, don’t get second chances. We gotta be twice as good from the start to get half what other people get.” I absolutely loved the sense of community in this but my favorite thing was the family dynamics. Rue has a wonderful relationship with her younger sister, Tasha. And though their mother was murdered prior to the story beginning we get flash backs of her and you can see how close they were with her as well. And then there is Rue and her relationship with her father, Aasim. It was beautiful and heartbreaking to say the least. Aasim is a very sympathetic and likable character. He wasn’t in her life growing up so to see Rue warm up to him and form a bond was wonderful and made me all emotional. Whew, I could go on about this book all day but I’ll stop. I wasn’t expecting for this book to hit me the way that it did. I will read whatever J. Elle writes and I wish her nothing but success. {Challenges completed:✔The Lost Challenges: Wedding Traditions Challenge✔For Love of a Book: School Supply Shopping Challenge✔For Love of a Book: Greatest Love Stories Challenge}

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thistle & Verse

    I'll just say that if you're on the fence about this book, definitely pick it up. It's a very unique contemporary fantasy, and you probably haven't read anything like it before. I dithered a lot about what rating to give it. I related to Rue's mistrust of authority. Ghizon isn't really the focus of the story until the end. It's a very hostile place, and Rue doesn't want to be there. The heart of this story is in the East Row, which Elle describes with love and nuance. Majority of the story is na I'll just say that if you're on the fence about this book, definitely pick it up. It's a very unique contemporary fantasy, and you probably haven't read anything like it before. I dithered a lot about what rating to give it. I related to Rue's mistrust of authority. Ghizon isn't really the focus of the story until the end. It's a very hostile place, and Rue doesn't want to be there. The heart of this story is in the East Row, which Elle describes with love and nuance. Majority of the story is narrated by Rue in AAVE. Not big on white-friend-learns-racism-exists plot lines, but this one actually had suspense to it. Taken out of it by marketing expectations and ending. Gods don't appear in this story. They're talked about, but it's unlikely they'll appear in the flesh. I wanted to be more interested in the magic system, and I think if Elle had ordered the time skips differently I would've been more engaged. I know some readers will find the ending empowering. For me, I felt like it conflicted with some of Rue's values (which could also just be setup for the next book) and wasn't sure it made sense in-world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    My most anticipated book of the year, did it live up to my expectations? YES. I wasn't expecting to cry so much, but here we are. Wings of Ebony is really emotional, J. Elle managed to get all the feels across perfectly. The length surprised me. Not negatively though, I was in the mood for something fast paced and not overly long so this was perfect. I have some unanswered questions (view spoiler)[Like how that guy from the beginning disappeared from the car so fast if he's human. Was that expla My most anticipated book of the year, did it live up to my expectations? YES. I wasn't expecting to cry so much, but here we are. Wings of Ebony is really emotional, J. Elle managed to get all the feels across perfectly. The length surprised me. Not negatively though, I was in the mood for something fast paced and not overly long so this was perfect. I have some unanswered questions (view spoiler)[Like how that guy from the beginning disappeared from the car so fast if he's human. Was that explained? I may have missed it. (hide spoiler)] , but overall this book did a good job at explaining things. The romance wasn't that big of a part of the book and I'm glad. With all the action going on it would've been ridiculous if she found the time for that. There's still a love triangle... (view spoiler)[If she kissed Julius first (well technically speaking she did when they were together but you know what I mean) then I could see the finger holding giving her tingles. BUT SHE KISSED JHAMAL. SHE'S OFF THE MARKET. C'MON. He was even like "are you sure?" She seemed sure to me. (hide spoiler)] I like causing myself pain by reading love triangles because I'm always rooting for the other guy who'll never get the girl. I have a favourite here and I can't tell who's going to be the other guy yet. The plot was cool. I love that Rue wants to protect everyone who isn't even blood related. That's what real heroes do. Rue is awesome. She's a rare case of entirely likable main characters. Her one "flaw" is that she's young and sometimes doesn't think things through, but her heart is always in the right place. There's a lot of good messages in this book. That you're stronger together, that you can achieve anything you set your mind to if you work hard enough, and also that you really shine when you accept who you are, all that you are. My eyes are still on the verge of crying as I'm typing this. I really love Wings of Ebony. Give it a chance if you haven't already.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yeganeh

    Dnf at 56% Ahhhhh why couldn't i read this one i have no clew. I just need to give it a try at some point in future. Dnf at 56% Ahhhhh why couldn't i read this one i have no clew. I just need to give it a try at some point in future.

  23. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    DNF at 30% Just not feeling it. After three days of not touching it and staring at it and thinking I should probably just finish it already, it's time to set it aside and move on. Another it's not you, it's me and my 2020 mood DNF. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. DNF at 30% Just not feeling it. After three days of not touching it and staring at it and thinking I should probably just finish it already, it's time to set it aside and move on. Another it's not you, it's me and my 2020 mood DNF. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oyinda

    Book 45 of 2021 This was a very highly anticipated read for me, and I was glad to finally get the audiobook. I shot it right to the top of my TBR, and it was ultimately a great book with a strong message. When I started this book, I enjoyed how fast paced it was, even though it took me a long time to form any attachment to the characters. This book was full of action and emotions, and it was very enjoyable. This book tells the story of Rue, and her adventures in Ghizon, a secret magical world where Book 45 of 2021 This was a very highly anticipated read for me, and I was glad to finally get the audiobook. I shot it right to the top of my TBR, and it was ultimately a great book with a strong message. When I started this book, I enjoyed how fast paced it was, even though it took me a long time to form any attachment to the characters. This book was full of action and emotions, and it was very enjoyable. This book tells the story of Rue, and her adventures in Ghizon, a secret magical world where she was whisked to by her father after the murder of her mother. Having to abandon her sister was the hardest thing Rue had ever done in her life, and the rules of Ghizon make it so that she can never have a relationship with her sister again. Unable to resist the temptation to see her sister on the anniversary of her mother’s death, Rue breaks the rules and her decision has dire consequences. She makes a number of discoveries in the time she spends in her childhood home, and none of them are very good. She soon finds herself on the run from Ghizon authorities, and also in a race to save her childhood home from the hands of some evil people. Her allies are her best friend from Ghizon, and she also finds another unlikely ally as she goes. This book has a lot of suspense, twists, turns, and revelations that blew my mind. I was wowed at every turn, and I absolutely loved what J. Elle did with this book, the characters, and so many other elements. The world building was exquisite, and I loved how she created the layout of the various worlds of this book. The audiobook narrator, Bahni Turpin, was so good, and I enjoyed her performance as Rue a lot. Some very important real-world issues were brought up and explored in this fantasy novel, such as racism, the way the media ignores black communities, how black kids are forced into crime, how white people steal from black people, and so many others. I enjoyed this book and it was worth all the hype and anticipation for me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kasia

    It's a hard book to rate. From the one hand it carries a great message and have an extremely likable main heroine but from the other hand it's just too short and as a result it doesn't reach it's full potential. We are following Rue, a spunky, no-nonsense teenage girl that grew up in Huston. After her mother was murdered she was taken to the magical island of Ghizon by her father where she is getting bound to magic. The whole story starts when Rue sneaks off Ghizon to visit her younger sister tha It's a hard book to rate. From the one hand it carries a great message and have an extremely likable main heroine but from the other hand it's just too short and as a result it doesn't reach it's full potential. We are following Rue, a spunky, no-nonsense teenage girl that grew up in Huston. After her mother was murdered she was taken to the magical island of Ghizon by her father where she is getting bound to magic. The whole story starts when Rue sneaks off Ghizon to visit her younger sister that was left behind in Texas. The situation immediately deteriorates and the tension starts to build up from page one so before chapter two I was already ear-deep in the action. Sadly, the pace gets crippled pretty fast by the somewhat sloppy world building and for the rest of the book the story was fighting with itself - the fast-paced adventure is slowed down to add some descriptions of the world which in turn were rushed so they won't slow the story too much. In the end Ghizon felt unbelievable (I don't understand why people on the isolated island that have only sporadic contact with the outside world are fluent in their own language and English? What is the purpose of the sorting ceremony? So to use magic you need to learn some spells but then you can use it without any spell? etc) and the story was slowed even more to add a love triangle that in my opinion was completely unnecessary and lacked any chemistry. So from the promising book it turned out very, very meh. Which is a pity because you can see that there were a lot of great ideas there. Also a trigger warning: Rue is overusing word "ass" in her narration which at first was ok but quickly started to annoy me. So if you are not ok with mild cursing then you should skip this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I have made it to the end and I LOVED it. This book is at once YA, but something I would have no problem (and will probably) handing over to my 5th grade nephew. The cover may be purple/pink and gold but there is something there for everyone. Rue is just a girl in her hood, East Row. Or at least she was just a girl. Until the day her mother died. She had no idea that magic existed, and that she can possess it. But in typical fashion for someone who feels abandoned, she is not too happy with the I have made it to the end and I LOVED it. This book is at once YA, but something I would have no problem (and will probably) handing over to my 5th grade nephew. The cover may be purple/pink and gold but there is something there for everyone. Rue is just a girl in her hood, East Row. Or at least she was just a girl. Until the day her mother died. She had no idea that magic existed, and that she can possess it. But in typical fashion for someone who feels abandoned, she is not too happy with the father she just met. Not only has he not been in the picture for as long as she could remember, but he has taken her away from her hood, from her sister, and from the life she was living. Magic is nice and all, but Rue would give it all back to have her sister. There are lots of discussions of #TeamJamal, or #TeamJulius. I can’t really pick on. I lean one way, but the thing is, this isn’t a romance. There are some feelings, but it’s a side action. We are just barely introduced to these characters. This story is not about a love triangle. This story is about Rue, her sister, and her home. All of her homes. But something sinister is going on in the Row. Guns, Drugs, Thugs. And somehow her sister is involved. Rue is going to get to the bottom of the danger in her hood, figure out her new magical life, and hopefully survive the entire ordeal. Readers will see modern politics reflected in these pages, but it is reflected in a way that is approachable and makes for teachable moments. Black kids will see themselves, their family, their home. White kids, hopefully will get a better understanding of what it feels like to be Black in american society or at least hopefully understand why or how our views are flawed. Bri is an example of someone who doesn’t understand at first but tries to learn, like many in our modern society should try to do. This book was a fabulous read. The Black Girl Magic spills from the pages. And while I was constantly asking questions, or was annoyed with Rue for not giving her dad a chance, it all was wrapped up in a nice neat package that left a smile on my face at the end. But the story hasn’t ended, and as a member of Rue’s Crew, I am really hoping J. Elle will be generous with galleys for book 2. I don’t think I can wait an entire another year to find out what happens in Ghazan.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dayla

    This is a DNF for me at just over 100 pages. I REALLY wanted to enjoy this because the premise is so cool, but the MC is frustrating and so is her sister. The storytelling is also kind of messy (for me). I hope others enjoy it more than I did! Happy reading!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Froberg

    THIS. BOOK. WILL. MAKE. YOU. FEEL. Rue's powerful voice that is unapologetic and determined to seek justice for her people is what shines here. This book doesn't hold back on tough issues and weaves them beautifully within a magically thrilling adventure. J. Elle grabs you by the hand and pulls you through her book in a way that makes it accessible and very personal. Sometimes so personal that you have to sit back and reexamine yourself. I liked the dynamic between the real world scenes and those THIS. BOOK. WILL. MAKE. YOU. FEEL. Rue's powerful voice that is unapologetic and determined to seek justice for her people is what shines here. This book doesn't hold back on tough issues and weaves them beautifully within a magically thrilling adventure. J. Elle grabs you by the hand and pulls you through her book in a way that makes it accessible and very personal. Sometimes so personal that you have to sit back and reexamine yourself. I liked the dynamic between the real world scenes and those of Ghizan. Plus the twists and turns as you learn more about the world and magic are great! Rue is a strong protagonist who has a lot to learn and discover about herself, and I was rooting for her the entire time. 100% recommend this! Warnings: --extensive swearing --violence --death on-page of teen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Britt Writerly

    “Finally.” THE Caveat: First, all the Black books we have are wins. From Toni Morrison to Tracy Deonn. It’s always a win. The things I say in this review are specifically in reference to 1) ya fantasy 2) a very particular story being called worthy, so it’s truly no shade to any other Black author or book. This is MY truth based on MY life so leave me be. I’m saying this here because I’m not about to put a bunch of qualifiers throughout this review. They’re here. I love a variety of Black stories. “Finally.” THE Caveat: First, all the Black books we have are wins. From Toni Morrison to Tracy Deonn. It’s always a win. The things I say in this review are specifically in reference to 1) ya fantasy 2) a very particular story being called worthy, so it’s truly no shade to any other Black author or book. This is MY truth based on MY life so leave me be. I’m saying this here because I’m not about to put a bunch of qualifiers throughout this review. They’re here. I love a variety of Black stories. We need diversity in the TYPES of stories told. I’ve been waiting for this kind and I’m gonna celebrate it without restraint below. RATING: 6/5. Yeah, 6, because J.Elle is exceeding the bar and critiquing it all at the same time and you’re just gonna have to stay mad. Review!!! So there’s a scene in Wings where Rue rushes back home for reasons I won’t say here to avoid spoilers but it’s tense. She’s scared; you’re scared. She opens The Door and Etta James’s “At Last” drifts out of the crack. That’s how I felt opening this book (well, pressing play on the audiobook ;). I have never read an Urban Contemporary Fantasy that takes up the real conditions of Black life in this country so unflinchingly. I haven’t. I mean not using retellings or stepping away to magical kingdoms but gazing at the harshness of home and making YOUR conflict the STORY’s conflict. This storytelling is elaborate in its simplicity: it’s Black life. Because J. Elle honors that, storying her experiences fantastic, Wings has so many departures and I don’t want this review to be unreasonably long so-- actually I’ve been waiting for this book for 9 years. This review will be as long as I want. Tap out when you need to. The fact that Rue is offered a magical island-- offered magic itself-- and its like “nah, bruh. I want home” is already a major departure from the norm of what fantasy does. She’s not trying to escape. Her stakes are the stakes of Black people in real life. That is not in any way the norm. This book empowers a Black teen to worldmake in THIS world-- in the AMERICAN SOUTH. That’s. Not. The. Norm. The focus on community in this book gave me such life. Rue’s so uncompromising with it. She’s loyal to fam and fam is the block. She risks it all for them because they’re WORTHY. This story elevates people who are so often erased. Black Americans ain’t popping. Anywhere-- just our culture and accomplishments. But us? Those of us who don’t know where in Africa or the Caribbean we were stolen from and only have our region, our state, our neighborhood to say that’s where we’re “from.” They don’t call us beautiful. But Wings is gorgeous. The people in it are gorgeous. The sisterhood between Rue and Tasha is gorgeous. Julian’s “You know I got you” is stunning. JULIAN is stunning because let me drop this too: we need more Black boys in fantasy. MORE. Their absence is erasure of frightening proportions. They’re here. ALL the love tensions/interests were with Black boys. BLACK LOVE FOR THE CHILDREN. I love it so. Oh! I love it so. Pacing is wonderful. It’s very fast and I had to pace the reading myself because whooooo J. Elle tried to kill me. My heart almost stopped a couple of times and I was literally curled up in bed like “I need an out or a safeword or something.” She hits you. You’re not about to get comfortable or feel too settled or safe-- and the danger is familiar. Drugs, guns, beatings. Not light sabers or even swords. Most of us have never seen a real life sword. Oh, you have? Just me then, fine. Gun violence, though, is a familiar cross we bear in this country even if it didn’t riddle the communities we grew up in specifically. It’s all we hear about. It’s rocked this country from church shootings to school shootings to gang shootings to police shootings. You get triggered right along with Rue and tremble along with her. Which leads me to trauma. Rue probably has PTSD from witnessing her mom’s murder but we don’t get a diagnosis, we get the reality of how she lives with it. The paralyzing fear, the random memories, the sudden onset muteness. It’s not spectacular. It’s quiet and easily overlooked from the outside but it’s everything for Rue (and that’s whose perspective we’re made to experience from). Which is another thing: the reader, whoever they are, HAS to get right up and personal with racism. Yeah. The last thing I’ll talk about is just naming the themes that show up in this book because this review couldn’t possibly get it all. That’s what dissertations are for. Family, community, police brutality, state disinvestment, gun violence, drugs, antiblackness, devaluation of Black life, Black Lives Matter, white fragility, racial allyship, forgiveness, teamwork, fortitude, colonialism, historical deletions, ancestry. I’m sure I’m missing many things that will come to me as I continue to reflect but these are just some that popped out to me immediately. If you’ve gotten nothing else from this review, go read this book. We all need it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Blackwood

    Rounded up from 4.5 stars The fantasy trope where the protagonist discovers they’re a descendant of a magical being and has to learn to use their powers is pretty well-trodden ground. But Wings of Ebony puts a really nuanced spin on it for two reasons: 1. The protagonist Definitely Did Not Ask For This, Thanks 2. The true origins of her birthright are a little more complicated than they might seem ... I loved getting to know Rue as a hero — it can be really hard to pull off the reluctant hero trope Rounded up from 4.5 stars The fantasy trope where the protagonist discovers they’re a descendant of a magical being and has to learn to use their powers is pretty well-trodden ground. But Wings of Ebony puts a really nuanced spin on it for two reasons: 1. The protagonist Definitely Did Not Ask For This, Thanks 2. The true origins of her birthright are a little more complicated than they might seem ... I loved getting to know Rue as a hero — it can be really hard to pull off the reluctant hero trope without making them seem whiny or apathetic, but Rue is a total badass and cares deeply about helping people. Even if she kind of hates the people who gave her powers (not to spoil anything, but uh ... her instincts aren’t exactly wrong on that front 😉) Oh yah, and her darkest moment literally had me bawling my eyes out! So def bring tissues 😭 The themes of community, ancestry, and combating racism are woven beautifully into the plot, and definitely gave me food for thought. While there are some overt racists (who get soundly thrashed), there’s also discussion of how even well-meaning people in a position of privilege can help perpetuate oppression. The story itself is fast-paced for a fantasy novel, so if you’ve been on the lookout for a quick fantasy read, definitely check this one out! The twists kept me devouring the pages, and though I would have liked to see a little more of the world of Ghizon, I figure I’ll get my wish in the sequel 😄 Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the e-ARC!

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