Book Review

Review: Magonia by Maria Headley

magonia by maria headleyPublished: April 28 2015

Number of pages: 309

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Harper

Genre: magical realism, romance, adventure, scifi, parallel universes

Audience: YA

Rating: 4/5 owl hoots

Find it on Goodreads | Chapters Indigo


Since Aza Ray was born she always had problems breathing. The doctors could only provide her with drugs to keep her alive and hope for the best. When Aza catches a glimpse of a flying ship in the sky, her family thinks she is hallucinating, but Aza doesn’t think so. She knows what she saw and she can hear someone calling her name. Only her friend Jason listens and has stood beside her almost all of her life. Aza wonders if her feelings for Jason are more then just friendly but before she can discover, the sickness consumes her and Aza is lost to her world until she finds herself swept into another called Magonia. As Aza navigates her new life she realizes that Magonia and Earth are at a war with each other. Where do her loyalties lie?

My Review:

After reading Neil Gaiman’s quote on the cover of the book, I knew I had to read it. A strange yet unique story about a girl with a sickness in her lungs and leaves our world entering into a new one filled with flying ships, feathered people, pirates, and birds (lots of birds!) This is unlike any magical realism story, it’s really bizarre but in a good way especially when we find out that our heroine, Aza Ray is caught in the middle of a possible war between the Magonians and the Drowners (humans).

Aza Ray always had problems breathing but not even all the best medication in the world can cure her disease. It turns out that the reason why she has trouble breathing in her world is because she doesn’t belong there. After a tragic accident, Aza is swept away to an alternate world in the skies where she meets these blue-feathered people who fly on ships, and carry birds inside their lungs to sing and change elements. I can’t explain why but while reading about the strange blue people, I couldn’t help imagine them as the aliens from the Avatar movie. Their profiles are described as blue skin with long fingers and change into birds! This is where the bizarreness is but that only makes the aliens more interesting. I love how Maria builds up the Magonian world and how she does a show and tell of this strange civilization. There is history between the Magonians and the Drowners (humans) which is essential to understanding why these two civilizations are divided. This other world that Maria has created fascinates me and I’m eager to learn more about the origins of Magonia, and the bird people that came with it.

The formatting is very unique too. There are words that fall off the page and crossed out to show the character’s denial of their feelings, which is something that I’ve never seen before. We have two POVs: Aza and Jason, a girl born from the skies and a boy from Earth whom she falls in love with. They have known each other since childhood and have liked each other for so long but never had a chance to admit their feelings. The tragic moment scene was really bittersweet and emotionally intense because it reminds us how we don’t realize how much we love someone until it is too late.

Lastly that ending was something out of an apocalyptic movie! The battle ship scenes, the fight between Magonians vs. pirates, and the doomsday that almost befell Earth was so overwhelming that I couldn’t drop the book; I had to keep going to see how it ends. But I didn’t expect a cliffhanger as I thought this was a stand-alone book. On the other hand, this is a series that I would like to keep reading as I see a lot of potential with the characters and the world of Magonia. But this also means that we have to wait another year for the sequel!


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