STARRED REVIEW
March 2021

Wings of Ebony

By J. Elle
Review by

Rue is content with life in her childhood home in Houston, where she lives with her mother and younger sister. But after her mother’s unexpected death, her long-absent father returns and takes Rue to Ghizon, a secret, distant island where every citizen can use magic. Rue must integrate herself into Ghizon’s mysterious and rigid magical society, far from the only home she’s ever known.

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Rue is content with life in her childhood home in Houston, where she lives with her mother and younger sister. But after her mother’s unexpected death, her long-absent father returns and takes Rue to Ghizon, a secret, distant island where every citizen can use magic. Rue must integrate herself into Ghizon’s mysterious and rigid magical society, far from the only home she’s ever known.

When Rue escapes Ghizon to visit her sister, she sets off a chain of events that transcends realms and reveals the truth of Rue’s identity as half human, half god. With strength and determination, she rises to confront evil.

Wings of Ebony presents a fresh and complex take on the “chosen one” trope. Honest and often humorous as she explores what it means to balance her magic and her humanity, Rue retains a cutting, clear voice no matter what she’s facing, and her personality often eclipses the magical world around her. 

As Rue paints a vibrant picture of her life in Houston, she’s as critical of her hometown’s systemic racism as she is nostalgic for her neighbor’s cooking. Eventually she learns to recognize the beauty of her magical heritage, too, and she is just as vocal about the racism, colonialism and privilege that plague Ghizon. She is determined to survive, succeed and protect her loved ones, whether they’re from Houston or Ghizon.

Thanks to her fiery nature, Rue develops dynamic relationships with the rest of the novel’s characters. Some see her as an enemy, but others stand beside her to fight for justice. By conveying all of these perspectives, Wings of Ebony asks readers to reflect honestly on their own beliefs and where they would stand. 

Debut author J. Elle’s depiction of a young woman embracing the seemingly conflicting sides of her identity is masterful and moving. Bursting with insight, a deeply felt sense of community and an imaginative magic system, Wings of Ebony tells a thrilling, fast-paced story that illuminates serious issues and is sure to resonate with readers.

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Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony

By J. Elle
Denene Millner
ISBN 9781534470675

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