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Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics. When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.


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Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics. When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

30 review for Maya and the Rising Dark

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jade Ratley

    Thank you to Netgalley for the earc of this one! I had a real fun time on Maya’s journey. Maya is a 12 year old girl, when on the search for her missing father she finds herself in the middle of a war between two sides of the world - the Orishas and the Darkbringers. It was great to read a middle grade with African mythology, as this is definitely not something I’ve read before! When putting this through CAWPILE (the rating system I use) this came out at an overall score of 6.71, which is a high 3 Thank you to Netgalley for the earc of this one! I had a real fun time on Maya’s journey. Maya is a 12 year old girl, when on the search for her missing father she finds herself in the middle of a war between two sides of the world - the Orishas and the Darkbringers. It was great to read a middle grade with African mythology, as this is definitely not something I’ve read before! When putting this through CAWPILE (the rating system I use) this came out at an overall score of 6.71, which is a high 3 star rating. I found the characters great fun and very easy to root for, their individual personalities shining through along with the bond of their friendship. The community atmosphere of Maya’s home town was very apparent, with clear references to the side characters that make the community cast. I feel this story is quite comparable to Percy Jackson, for a number of reasons (not in any sort of ‘rip off’ way, it was still incredibly original). 1. The story follows a young ‘godling’ (child of a god and human) coming into their powers and learning about the godly side of their parentage. 2. The chapter titles were similarly structures (I.e. I Nearly Become Bird Food). 3. The inclusivity and diversity of the cast of characters. 4. The writing style, it was humorous in a way, easy to follow and fall into the story. I definitely had a fun time with this, and enjoyed my reading experience, but it was missing something for me - I didn’t feel particularly emotional for the characters or at any point throughout the plot, it just didn’t suck me in that way. The plot was definitely action packed with conflicts and troubles facing the main trio often, but I didn’t feel any emotion unfortunately. That being said, I had an enjoyable reading experience and would for sure recommend to a fan of middle grade fantasy!

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G Maya and the Rising Dark is a fun, action-packed adventure story based on West African mythology. Twelve-year old Maya has always dismissed her papa’s adventure stories as bizarre and unreal, but when she begins to notice creatures straight out of those stories around her neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago whom apparently nobody else sees, Maya tells her friends Eli and Frankie about them, and the trio starts looking for an expla Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G Maya and the Rising Dark is a fun, action-packed adventure story based on West African mythology. Twelve-year old Maya has always dismissed her papa’s adventure stories as bizarre and unreal, but when she begins to notice creatures straight out of those stories around her neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago whom apparently nobody else sees, Maya tells her friends Eli and Frankie about them, and the trio starts looking for an explanation. They find out that Maya’s father, who is actually the orisha guardian of the veil between our world and The Dark, has been kidnapped by the Lord of Shadows, a terrifying entity who appears in Maya’s dreams frequently. Now it’s up to Maya and her friends to rescue Maya’s father from the Dark and stop the Lord of Shadows from unleashing his army on the human world. Raad the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  3. 4 out of 5

    Drewthereader20

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book number 14 for September! In September I have read 15 books total and this was my second to last read for the month. I really am happy I read this one because I had the arc of it since august because someone from a Facebook group called: arcs for trade, wanted to trade it with me because I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and I actually thought this was part of the Rick riordan presents but it wasn’t but it was still a good middle grade! Maya and the rising dark by Rena Barron was my Book number 14 for September! In September I have read 15 books total and this was my second to last read for the month. I really am happy I read this one because I had the arc of it since august because someone from a Facebook group called: arcs for trade, wanted to trade it with me because I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and I actually thought this was part of the Rick riordan presents but it wasn’t but it was still a good middle grade! Maya and the rising dark by Rena Barron was my first book by this author and I really enjoyed this one as well. I gave this a 5/5 stars and here is why... This is a middle grade novel and I haven’t read a lot of them in 202. I’ve read some but not a lot! Second it was a super short and fast and funny book. Third it’s own voices for person of color and fourth there are an amazing cast of characters including some lgbt characters in this book too! That’s right I said lgbt characters in the book. So maya and the rising dark is about our main character name maya and she is this ordinary girl when one day when she stayed in her after school tutoring everything is when the world that maya knew of changes. U find out that maya isn’t just ur average 12 or 13 year old girl she has these god like powers, but she doesn’t know them yet until she saw the world from her classroom window go from a very bright and sunny day too a dark day and it was only 3pm and it doesn’t get dark that early. So every time she see the world go dark her amnesia goes a little crazy and she thinks she can see these werid wolf like creature outside her window. And so she and her best friend Eli and Frankie who are amazing btw! They go out there and try to fight out these creatures but they can’t. Maya discovered that she is part orshia and human. Sounds similar to another book? Ik it does but this one was so much to read. It was a little slow in the middle of the book but it picked up towards the end. So I’m really happy I read this and loved it and can’t wait for book 2 to come out next summer...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is just fantastically fun and full of characters I adored, starting with brave, loyal Maya herself and very much including her two beautifully geeky best friends, Frankie and Eli, her parents, her teachers, her cranky neighbors, and absolutely all of her beloved neighborhood, which feels so warm and vivid and real. (There's also lots of nice casual diversity, like the fact that Frankie happens to have two moms, the school principal uses the "they" and "them" pronouns, etc.) I loved the This book is just fantastically fun and full of characters I adored, starting with brave, loyal Maya herself and very much including her two beautifully geeky best friends, Frankie and Eli, her parents, her teachers, her cranky neighbors, and absolutely all of her beloved neighborhood, which feels so warm and vivid and real. (There's also lots of nice casual diversity, like the fact that Frankie happens to have two moms, the school principal uses the "they" and "them" pronouns, etc.) I loved the worldbuilding and the magic, the adventure was breathlessly exciting, and most of all, I just REALLY wanted to make sure that Maya, Frankie, and Eli would be okay! Because I love all of three of them SO much. I can't wait for their next adventure!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    This Middle Grade fantasy kicks off with school ending for the summer. Maya is excited to be done with school and looking forward to finally being able to attend Comic Con this summer with her father. But then strange things start happening that she can't ignore. And she discovers a big family secret. Her father is an orisha and a guardian of a veil between their world and a dark world. And there are several orisha living in her community watching over her and her friends. But the worst comes wh This Middle Grade fantasy kicks off with school ending for the summer. Maya is excited to be done with school and looking forward to finally being able to attend Comic Con this summer with her father. But then strange things start happening that she can't ignore. And she discovers a big family secret. Her father is an orisha and a guardian of a veil between their world and a dark world. And there are several orisha living in her community watching over her and her friends. But the worst comes when her father is captured by the Lord of Shadows and his darkbringer army. Now it's up to Maya and her friends to use their godling powers to defeat him before he is able to cross the veil. One thing I really enjoyed that made this different from the usual story is that there wasn't one chosen one with a team surrounding them. All of Maya's closest friends found out at the same time as her that they are half orisha. And her friend Frankie was the first to display and use her powers. So her friends are able to use their powers alongside her to help save their world. This story does a great job introducing children to African gods and goddesses they may be unfamiliar with. It also introduces them to creatures such as elokos which are vicious forest dwelling creatures. The mythology isn't overly complicated and is explained in a way young readers will be able to follow along to truly immerse themselves. The action packed scenes and fast pace will be sure to keep young readers entertained. And the sense of community and family will make the story all more relatable to them. The Chicago setting is also one we don't usually see in stories so I liked how that was incorporated. Overall a this is a solid start to a series and a great story for beginner fantasy readers and I was lucky enough to be gifted an early copy from the author herself for review. Originally posted at https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  6. 4 out of 5

    Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)

    📚 𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀! Whenever I am in a reading slump, I always turn to a middle-grade book to boost it back up. 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸 by Rena Barron did just that! What an exciting new adventure with strong characters and unlimited action! This is an exhilarating read from the first page to the last. Twelve-year-old Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli discover that there is more than what meets the eyes when it comes to their lives. Together they need to face many dangers and brave darknes 📚 𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀! Whenever I am in a reading slump, I always turn to a middle-grade book to boost it back up. 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸 by Rena Barron did just that! What an exciting new adventure with strong characters and unlimited action! This is an exhilarating read from the first page to the last. Twelve-year-old Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli discover that there is more than what meets the eyes when it comes to their lives. Together they need to face many dangers and brave darkness if they want to free Maya’s father from the Lord of Shadows. This is the first book in this new series. I am looking forward to reading the next one and see where the author will take us. 💌 My Rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️/5 🙋🏼‍♀️ Thank you, 𝗥𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗖𝗼𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 for sending me an ARC of this fantastic book. 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸 by Rena Barron will be available at your favourite bookstore on September 22, 2020. #poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #book #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #bookphotography #mayaandtherisingdark #renabarron #bookreview

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I really enjoy Rena Barron's writing style. This story really was one that I could not put down. I really enjoy Rena Barron's writing style. This story really was one that I could not put down.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adri

    This is a fun and fast-paced read! It fits the same niche as the Rick Riordan Presents books in that it's an #ownvoices middle grade story about cultural mythology coming to life, so if you enjoy those books, you will definitely be a fan of this one as well. What really stood out to me about this story is that it's a clever twist on The Chosen One trope. I don't want to say too much, but Maya is *not* the only characters with powers, and in fact she's part of an incredible community that knows al This is a fun and fast-paced read! It fits the same niche as the Rick Riordan Presents books in that it's an #ownvoices middle grade story about cultural mythology coming to life, so if you enjoy those books, you will definitely be a fan of this one as well. What really stood out to me about this story is that it's a clever twist on The Chosen One trope. I don't want to say too much, but Maya is *not* the only characters with powers, and in fact she's part of an incredible community that knows all about orisha magic. It seems like a hallmark of The Chosen One narrative, especially in modern stories, is an element of isolation--the hero not being able to tell anyone what they're going through simply because there's no way others could begin to understand. But that is not the case in this story. Maya is surrounded by strong, magical people who are on her side 100%. They are there to help her through discovering these powers and this whole other world, they are not there to be a hindrance to her. She does not have to hide herself from anyone. I also appreciate how this story acknowledges that if your actions come at the expense of others, then they cannot be called heroic. There are very real consequences that come with magic and keeping the human world safe, and the understanding that sometimes you're the prey and other times you're the monster is an essential one. I'm intrigued to see how that develops in future books. Yes, I did think the main villain was a little hokey at times, and I wish the alternate dimensions were fleshed out a bit more vividly, but overall I really enjoyed this story and I appreciate all it has to offer!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paz

    Fifteenth read for #believathon! (back in november, but I'd forgot to update this, oops) This is like Percy Jackson, but with a POC cast and yoruba mythology!! I love it. It was non stop action. Oh! And for once I loved to see the MC talking about the destiny or possible death of the beigns they kill in self defence, about the morally of it all. and about how gray the "heroes" were. Highly recommend! Fifteenth read for #believathon! (back in november, but I'd forgot to update this, oops) This is like Percy Jackson, but with a POC cast and yoruba mythology!! I love it. It was non stop action. Oh! And for once I loved to see the MC talking about the destiny or possible death of the beigns they kill in self defence, about the morally of it all. and about how gray the "heroes" were. Highly recommend!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Vid review will be available here https://youtu.be/afRXUMggbj0 on October, 21, 2020 Vid review will be available here https://youtu.be/afRXUMggbj0 on October, 21, 2020

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Maya and the Rising Dark is a fantastical adventure based in African Mythology. Maya has always loved her dad’s stories of the Orishas and other magical creatures, but she never thought for a minute that they might all be real. So, she’s in for a big surprise when the Lord of Shadows starts appearing in her dreams and hinting at her father’s true identity—he is the guardian of the veil, the only thing keeping the Darkb This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Maya and the Rising Dark is a fantastical adventure based in African Mythology. Maya has always loved her dad’s stories of the Orishas and other magical creatures, but she never thought for a minute that they might all be real. So, she’s in for a big surprise when the Lord of Shadows starts appearing in her dreams and hinting at her father’s true identity—he is the guardian of the veil, the only thing keeping the Darkbringers from overwhelming the world of light. Turns out, her whole neighborhood is a haven for magical mythological (or so she thought) beings. When Maya’s dad is kidnapped, she and her two best friends take it upon themselves to do something about it. They find themselves in an alternate dark world full of danger, and discover their own abilities just when they need them most! One of my favorite aspects of this book is the tight-knit community that Maya lives in—it’s a positive portrayal of Chicago neighborhoods that you don’t get often. This book will definitely appeal to fans of Riordan’s books, many of whom would probably be introduced to a mythology they didn’t know much about. Plus, the trio of heroes are easy to relate to. This is a super fun read for the middle grade crowd! ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  12. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    It absolutely kills me to give any diverse book a low rating, and I specifically stuck with this one in the hopes that by the end it would turn around, but somehow the climax just managed to solidify my feelings. This book feels like it was written without an outline, and then just... left that way. Foreshadowing is more or less thrown out, characters have ten different possible arcs with no follow-through, huge chunks of the story are pretty much meaningless, the story's 'theme' is contemplated It absolutely kills me to give any diverse book a low rating, and I specifically stuck with this one in the hopes that by the end it would turn around, but somehow the climax just managed to solidify my feelings. This book feels like it was written without an outline, and then just... left that way. Foreshadowing is more or less thrown out, characters have ten different possible arcs with no follow-through, huge chunks of the story are pretty much meaningless, the story's 'theme' is contemplated by Maya internally without ever having any impact on the story itself, a lot of how the mythology is intertwined with the modern world feels paper thin, and almost all the difficult puzzles/problems felt flat as things the characters learned earlier in the book are immediately made irrelevant and problems that should require thoughtful solutions just happen to have those solutions magically projected into Maya's mind because of who her father is. I also felt a little disappointed by how many times Maya and her friends had to be saved by adults in the first third of the book. If this had tied into her character arc at all, maybe it would have seemed less cruel to the poor middle grader readers here to watch someone their age have a fun adventure, but alas, that's not even the case. Anyway, if you want a fun, diverse MG book, there are some amazing ones out there... the story in this one just wasn't up to par on any level, imo.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I absolutely loved everything about this book. Such an enticing tale of Maya and the dreams she has been having that she first thinks of messages from her family especially her papa. Later on she realizes that these visual dreams might mean more to her than she thinks and might be This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I absolutely loved everything about this book. Such an enticing tale of Maya and the dreams she has been having that she first thinks of messages from her family especially her papa. Later on she realizes that these visual dreams might mean more to her than she thinks and might be key for progression along in her life. When her papa disappears, Maya's world has turned upside down and all she has to rely on is her dreams of darkness she's had. Maya later finds out that she is a godling, half human, half god and the dreams she has been having are signs of her special gift. She later comes face to face with the Lord of Shadows who happens to be the man in all of her dreams. He is set on destroying the human world and it is up to Maya to stop him and save the world. This book definitely was similar to Aru Shah but I also saw some similarities to the Percy Jackson series as well so fans of Percy Jackson will appreciate this book as well. I hope this continues and becomes a series and I know our young readers will love this. We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    A fantastic fantasy! Maya embarks on a quest to save her missing dad. As she learns about this magical world that was brought upon her, she uncovers that she is half orisha, half human, as are her friends. Together they journey through wormholes, battling darkbringers to rescue her dad and repair the world. I loved the message of friends battling by your side & uncovering your hidden strengths.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Honestly a super fun and lovely middle grade read! This had everything you need - adventure, myths, super powers, friendship, family, and a great bad guy! I also found the West African influences beautifully done and well explained for an audience (like me) that might not be as familiar with them. There are some lovely quiet nods to Percy Jackson, but this easily stands on it’s own two feet. Maya is a great lead, and I also adore her two friends, Eli and Frankie. We get some quick backstory on the Honestly a super fun and lovely middle grade read! This had everything you need - adventure, myths, super powers, friendship, family, and a great bad guy! I also found the West African influences beautifully done and well explained for an audience (like me) that might not be as familiar with them. There are some lovely quiet nods to Percy Jackson, but this easily stands on it’s own two feet. Maya is a great lead, and I also adore her two friends, Eli and Frankie. We get some quick backstory on them all, but it’s against the main backdrop of what Maya is going through and seeing. All done in a Chicago neighbourhood that is strangely full of people who know what’s up ;) That was one of my favourite things actually - such a good idea to have neighbourhoods for goslings and the Orisha. I also particularly love Frankie’s love of science and how she tries to explain everything - so nice to see magic and science not needing to fight! The adventure itself is fun and full of just the right amount of peril and diversions. I loved that the kids really had no idea what they were doing or what to expect, and realised this very fast! But they learn quick, and soon are making some well educated guesses on how to get by :D The lord of shadows is a perfectly creepy and wonderful bad guy - though I’d have liked to have seen a little more of him, I sure we will in future books! I definitely recommend this for middle grade lovers - especially if you want to widen your mythical knowledge! 4.5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    r.

    This book is ADORABLE. The writing drew me in right away—light and easy to read. I could feel the love Maya had for her family and them for her, and her friends as well. All of the characters felt real and complicated. I loved Maya's voice, and I loved her coming into her strength. I loved the Comic-Con references and I love the idea of parallel universes and secrets in our world right under our noses. In this case, the Dark, which is like a flip turned upside down version of our world. I love w This book is ADORABLE. The writing drew me in right away—light and easy to read. I could feel the love Maya had for her family and them for her, and her friends as well. All of the characters felt real and complicated. I loved Maya's voice, and I loved her coming into her strength. I loved the Comic-Con references and I love the idea of parallel universes and secrets in our world right under our noses. In this case, the Dark, which is like a flip turned upside down version of our world. I love when kids have powers, and I was thrilled when Maya got the staff. Look at her on the cover holding that thing! And I have a weakness for mysterious old ladies and there are two of them in this book. I felt like the author got a lot of joy out of writing this book, and it shows in the words and the story. I'm very much looking forward to the next in the series!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Al Pascall

    Amazing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    A mythology based middle grade? Sign me up. And publishing on my birthday?? Just an extra reason to read it . . . Rena Barron's MAYA AND THE RISING DARK is an excitable and enjoyable read, featuring West African Mythology and a cast of wonderful characters. The novel follows the titular character Maya, and her best friends Frankie and Eli as they venture in to the Dark to face the villainous Lord of Shadows and to save her Papa. The friendship between Maya, Frankie and Eli was the best part of t A mythology based middle grade? Sign me up. And publishing on my birthday?? Just an extra reason to read it . . . Rena Barron's MAYA AND THE RISING DARK is an excitable and enjoyable read, featuring West African Mythology and a cast of wonderful characters. The novel follows the titular character Maya, and her best friends Frankie and Eli as they venture in to the Dark to face the villainous Lord of Shadows and to save her Papa. The friendship between Maya, Frankie and Eli was the best part of the novel for me. I loved each of their characters individually, and the dynamic between them. I loved that each of them had their own striking personality. They had some delightfully hilarious scenes, and I really enjoyed the unconditional support that they had for each other. Another highlight of the novel for me - bouncing off of the last one - was the feeling of community in the novel. I loved how the neighbourhood felt like a family. I do wish that we got to see more of the people in the neighbourhood and the relationships between them (I would've liked more than just them arguing). I hope this is something we see more in the sequel. I enjoyed the aspects of West African Mythology, learning about Orisha's and the other creatures. Again, I do hope we get more of them in the sequel. I enjoyed the quest aspect of this novel, as Maya and her friends were faced with Darkbringers who are determined to stop Maya from rescuing her Papa and securing the Veil between their two worlds. While the quests were interesting, something was missing for me. The novel just jumped from quest-to-quest, and then it ended, and I was like hm. Wish there was a bit more too it than jumping from action-to-action. While Maya - and her friends - did go on a character ARC of learning more about themselves, and the world around them, ultimately I felt like the overall ARC was lackluster. I don't want to say too much because I do not want to spoil, but I feel like there could have been more development to Maya's realisation of her powers & more exploration of the past etc. I feel like Barron may be saving a lot of the information/reveals for further novels in the series. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to seeing where the series goes. Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for giving me access to this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sammie

    You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here. Many thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced waaaaay back last year. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s clearly not in my arsenal of tools, okay? So I was super excited to be able to read this eARC. Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade fantasy adventure perfect for readers who want Rick Rior You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here. Many thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced waaaaay back last year. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s clearly not in my arsenal of tools, okay? So I was super excited to be able to read this eARC. Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade fantasy adventure perfect for readers who want Rick Riordan-esque books with a Black twist. Complete with a Black female lead, and based on West African mythology, this book packs in friendship bonds, adventure, and some awesome staff + magic fight scenes. Ultimately, this book delivered on the promise of adventure and fun, and I whizzed right through it. I loved that it plays with the God/Godling tropes that have become popular lately but with a unique spin on it. I thought the climax ended up being a little easy, but I have that problem a lot with middle grade books, so it’s probably just me, the silly thing I am. My Thoughts: - This world is based on West African mythology and the Orisha pantheon, and I love it! As diverse books sink their claws into the publishing world, I’ve been sitting here twiddling my thumbs just waiting for more books about Orisha and West African lore, and I am so here for these books! When I say this book brings West African mythology to life … I mean it. Literally. The Orisha exist as characters, and they are fabulous. Not all creatures in West African mythology are nice, though, and our intrepid little heroes run into plenty of those, too! - This book is chock full of adventure and quests, which naturally test the mettle (and friendship) of Maya and her friends. Hint: being friends with someone on a big quest to save the world is hard. Also hard: trying not to root for this trio. They’re all at an age where friendships are hard in general, but it was refreshing to see them tackling the challenge together, even if they sometimes had disagreements and bumps in the road. The adventure itself takes us to new places, like the Dark world on the other side of the veil. The plot moved at a pretty good pace, slowing down sometimes but always keeping me engaged and wanting to find out what happens next. - Maya’s weapon of choice is a staff, and the fight scenes include staff-wielding, magic-wielding, and just all-around awesomeness. First, can I just say how refreshing it is to see a character not using, like, a sword or a knife or something? I like shiny stabby things as much as the next person, but there’s something unique and satisfying about fighting with a staff. Then, when you add magic into the fight scenes? They’re just *chef’s kiss* Because the Orisha are characters in this book (and they all, of course, have powers), there’s a lot of dynamic, fun fight scenes that include some really impressive shows of power. I loved seeing the characters fighting together, especially since they all have different styles of fighting and different powers. I don’t want to say too much, but I’ll leave you with this: these were some of my favorite fight scenes I’ve read in a mid-grade book recently! - The villain was defeated a tad easily, but I did so enjoy his villainy, and I’m not entirely convinced we’ve seen the last of him. At least, I sure hope we haven’t. You know when you stumble across a villain so bad that you can’t help but love him? Yup, this is it. More importantly, the villain totally has a justified grievance. My all-time favorite villains are ones that I can feel their anger and understand their justification, because they feel much more real and rounded, and that is definitely the case here. Also, the scenes about him just really gave me chills, in a good “I don’t wanna meet this guy in a dark alley” sort of a way. Everything you’d want in a villain, and I’m not entirely ready to give him up yet.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron, 291 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. $16.99. Content: Language: G (0 swears, 0“f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Maya is a twelve year old girl in the South Side of Chicago who loves the fantasy stories in her comics. She has grown up with her father sharing fantastical stories of legendary creatures and African Spirits who created the universe, the Orishas. She has a strange experience Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron, 291 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. $16.99. Content: Language: G (0 swears, 0“f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Maya is a twelve year old girl in the South Side of Chicago who loves the fantasy stories in her comics. She has grown up with her father sharing fantastical stories of legendary creatures and African Spirits who created the universe, the Orishas. She has a strange experience at school where time froze around her and colors started fading to gray, which she thinks is due to her anemia, but stranger things start happening more frequently. When her father disappears, Maya and her two best friends, Frankie and Eli, set off on a dangerous quest to save him. On their journey they discover ancient magic hidden in plain sight and power deep within themselves. This exciting book which will be a favorite of young women who are ready to feel more independent and have an adventure. I loved reading the story and connected with Maya's character who feels she is an ordinary girl who does not stand out academically or socially, but is determined to do what is right, even when it is scary. There are several scenes of fighting dangerous mythical creatures that wield weapons repelled by magic and a wooden staff. Battle injuries are minor and heal magically. A helicopter flown by a “bad” character explodes and a commander of a dark army kills one of her own men. Reviewer, Kara Spjute https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/2020...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Oh my goodness I really loved this book! Maya and the Rising Dark was a fresh, original story with much black girl magic goodness and the power of one’s roots. Maya is a comic book nerd who loves her family, friends, neighborhood and city. I liked the close, loving relationship Maya has with her father. She is willing to go the distance to rescue him and stop darkbringers and the Lord of Shadows from invading and destroying the human world. She’s a relatable kid, bighearted, and impulsive yet und Oh my goodness I really loved this book! Maya and the Rising Dark was a fresh, original story with much black girl magic goodness and the power of one’s roots. Maya is a comic book nerd who loves her family, friends, neighborhood and city. I liked the close, loving relationship Maya has with her father. She is willing to go the distance to rescue him and stop darkbringers and the Lord of Shadows from invading and destroying the human world. She’s a relatable kid, bighearted, and impulsive yet understands when she’s wrong and the grave consequences some actions have. I love Maya’s friends. One of them loves all things paranormal. The other is an academic genius. And then there’s Maya with her deep love of comic books. These three are definitely friendship goals. I liked how Maya drew on her favorite comic book character and her father’s fantastical stories to push through and keep her and her friends alive. The world building was great! There’s this awesome blend of community and black culture, darkness and light that was juxtaposed really well and made for an captivating read. The story was fast-paced and full of action. I didn’t want to stop reading. Maya is only 12 years old but is determined to save the world despite the odds so firmly stacked against her. This little warrior earned a place in my heart. Maya and the Rising Dark was too quick of a read – you could read it in a day – because I’m already super eager for the next book. This was a fantastic middle grade fantasy adventure that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to see what adventures Maya must undertake next!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marzie

    Maya and the Rising Dark, first in a new middle-grade series by Rena Barron (Kingdom of Souls, gives us Maya, a middle-grade student living on the South Side of Chicago, who starts noticing some odd things in her classroom and gym at her school. She and her friends Eli and Frankie also encounter the neighborhood's bullies, who just aren't acting like themselves. Soon enough they are caught in the dark with some pretty scary werehyenas and have to be rescued by... the twin old ladies who live dow Maya and the Rising Dark, first in a new middle-grade series by Rena Barron (Kingdom of Souls, gives us Maya, a middle-grade student living on the South Side of Chicago, who starts noticing some odd things in her classroom and gym at her school. She and her friends Eli and Frankie also encounter the neighborhood's bullies, who just aren't acting like themselves. Soon enough they are caught in the dark with some pretty scary werehyenas and have to be rescued by... the twin old ladies who live down the block. Wait a minute, what?! Her papa has long been telling her stories about all kinds of strange creatures from the world of the Orishas. She thought they were just stories but now they are showing up in Chicago? How does her father know about these creatures and why is he away for work all the time? Maya and the Rising Dark is a great fit for a child who's loved the Aru Shah series. Similar in vein, mixing action and humor, with a hidden world filled with Yoruban spirits, this is a story with a rich underpinning of African and Latin American magic, sure to delight middle-grade readers. I enjoyed the roles of friendship and community in this book. It takes a village to keep children safe, to rescue a father, and to defend the world. The audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani, who narrates the Aru Shah books, is highly enjoyable and complete with amusing sound effects. I received a digital review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

    https://thecaffeinatedreader.com/2020... Barron’s writing style is so engaging in her MG debut every single chapter was exciting in its own right and every single chapter that we finished, the spawn begged me to keep going. The godlings was such a great take and I think that the way the mythology was meshed in was a great take of world-building, and I love that the setting was Chicago! Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli made up a great trio, they were uncomplicated in their friendship, if one of https://thecaffeinatedreader.com/2020... Barron’s writing style is so engaging in her MG debut every single chapter was exciting in its own right and every single chapter that we finished, the spawn begged me to keep going. The godlings was such a great take and I think that the way the mythology was meshed in was a great take of world-building, and I love that the setting was Chicago! Maya and her friends Frankie and Eli made up a great trio, they were uncomplicated in their friendship, if one of them was in trouble, they helped, that was it, and I thought that was beautiful in a way, something that’s so important to show kids; help should be freely given especially to your friends anyway. Not to mention they were helping to save Maya’s dad so that not only meant adventures into the possible unknown but a quest worthy of any hero. We worried for Maya and her friends and family, we were thrilled with the Dark and all that was in it, the darkbringers, the differences in their world and ours and of course the Lord of Shadows who made an excellent and complicated antagonist. The ending was super satisfying and still set us up to be quite impatient for book two! Spawn and I just adored this book from start to finish, great character development, world-building, magic system, lore/mythology, and pacing! 5/5 huge cups of coffee from spawn and I both, thank you so much to the publishers for an ARC of this in exchange for our honest review (spawn and I both in this case).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen McKenna

    I really enjoyed Maya's adventure story as she learns that her father is the guardian of the veil, a veil that separates the world of the humans that she knows from the Dark where the Darkbringers live ruled by the Lord of the Shadows. The mythology was fascinating. What I appreciated most was the idea that mistakes were made when the veil was created, killing many Darkbringers and causing the hatred that now threatened Maya's family and world. There is also a scene where Maya and her friends fi I really enjoyed Maya's adventure story as she learns that her father is the guardian of the veil, a veil that separates the world of the humans that she knows from the Dark where the Darkbringers live ruled by the Lord of the Shadows. The mythology was fascinating. What I appreciated most was the idea that mistakes were made when the veil was created, killing many Darkbringers and causing the hatred that now threatened Maya's family and world. There is also a scene where Maya and her friends first come across Darkbringer children in their own world and recognize the importance of their ordinary lives that I found powerful. I can't wait to see how Maya's journey progresses as she learns how to do her job and also how to handle the inevitable war that is coming between the two worlds. #LitReviewCrew

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mac

    I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a compelling middle-grade fantasy novel that incorporates West African cultural elements. I enjoyed the fast-paced ride that Barron creates, and I especially love how she incorporated the orisha mythology into this work; it's one that I'm not familiar with, and it would be great to introduce it to young readers. The diversity piece is also incredibly important; by making Maya and her friends "godlings," Barro I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a compelling middle-grade fantasy novel that incorporates West African cultural elements. I enjoyed the fast-paced ride that Barron creates, and I especially love how she incorporated the orisha mythology into this work; it's one that I'm not familiar with, and it would be great to introduce it to young readers. The diversity piece is also incredibly important; by making Maya and her friends "godlings," Barron also gives agency to the inhabitants of a Chicago neighborhood that, historically, have received less positive attention. The adventure and dashes of humor will appeal to middle-grade readers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    JoyAnn

    I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this for the middle school library. Loved the characters. Maya, Frankie, Eli, the parents, the Lord is Shadows, the twins, etc. They’re all interesting and well developed. I appreciate that Elegguá and The Lord of Shadows are neither all good or bad as hero and villain and are complex. Some of the early battle pacing was a bit disjointed for me, and I thought there was going to be a twist with the epicenter or a connection between Lord of Shadows and May I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this for the middle school library. Loved the characters. Maya, Frankie, Eli, the parents, the Lord is Shadows, the twins, etc. They’re all interesting and well developed. I appreciate that Elegguá and The Lord of Shadows are neither all good or bad as hero and villain and are complex. Some of the early battle pacing was a bit disjointed for me, and I thought there was going to be a twist with the epicenter or a connection between Lord of Shadows and Maya and was slightly bummed there wasn’t. Still a really good book. Would definitely recommend to middle school librarians to purchase.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nikki S

    This MG is not being talked about and it's not fair! There's mythology, action, adventure, and so much more! Definitely give it a chance and read it! **EDIT 12/27/20** You can find more of my reviews here at my blog: Take Me Away... I don’t read a lot of MG novels, but when I do, they always have a certain kind of plot. And this one was definitely like my usual. There was action, adventure, and mythology, and just everything I needed to really fall for this MG. Maya has been having some weird thing This MG is not being talked about and it's not fair! There's mythology, action, adventure, and so much more! Definitely give it a chance and read it! **EDIT 12/27/20** You can find more of my reviews here at my blog: Take Me Away... I don’t read a lot of MG novels, but when I do, they always have a certain kind of plot. And this one was definitely like my usual. There was action, adventure, and mythology, and just everything I needed to really fall for this MG. Maya has been having some weird things happen to her. She saw the world turn gray, werehyenas, and more. She doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want anyone to think something’s wrong with her. But then out of nowhere her dad tells her what he really is and what that means for her. But then, her dad goes missing and Maya knows the only way to make sure she saves him… Is if she does it herself. There’s not much I didn’t like about this book. I LOVED the plot. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about African mythology and Orishas. This story gave me thoughts of an African Percy Jackson. (Still love Tristan Strong, this is just a different side of African mythology) Even I learned a lot from this book. I looked up all the Orisha as I read them and found out some really interesting facts. I also loved the characters. Maya was bad ass. She wasn’t as confident (as most chosen one troupes aren’t) in the beginning, but as the book goes on, she changes and so do her friends. I also loved her friends as well. They weren’t the golden trio, but they were still pretty great. With one of them having an obsession with science, the other having an obsession with ghosts, I thought they made a pretty interesting combo. As it turns out, they always work together really well. The only thing I wish this had was a bit more humor. With MG I feel like I’m supposed to laugh the whole time. Like humor is what makes the MG reader keep reading. But this one had SOME, but it wasn’t that much. Maybe this is just me comparing every MG I read to Percy Jackson, but I just wanted more. I wanted more. I know this is probably only me thinking this, but still… This was a pretty cool MG that I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did. Which I don’t know why since this was by Rena Barron. Maybe because it’s a MG. Whatever the case may be, I’m super happy this was so good. I can’t wait to see what the next book in the series is like.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karah Sutton

    A thrilling adventure filled with monsters, magic, family, and friendship. Maya's world turns upside down when she learns astonishing truths that have been hidden from her: orishas — celestial beings of African lore and the stars of Maya's favorite comic books — are real; the orishas protect Earth from the darkbringers, who live in a dimension separated from her world by an invisible veil; the veil is tearing, and Maya's father is the only one who can fix it. These revelations set the stage for A thrilling adventure filled with monsters, magic, family, and friendship. Maya's world turns upside down when she learns astonishing truths that have been hidden from her: orishas — celestial beings of African lore and the stars of Maya's favorite comic books — are real; the orishas protect Earth from the darkbringers, who live in a dimension separated from her world by an invisible veil; the veil is tearing, and Maya's father is the only one who can fix it. These revelations set the stage for Maya coming into her own as she discovers what it means to be a "godling" and seeks to rescue her father from the rising dark and the evil Lord of Shadows. Comic-book-loving Maya is a brave and admirable heroine, and I especially loved her witty and warm best friends Eli and Frankie. Filled with wonderful characters and non-stop action, this book is perfect for anyone who loves Percy Jackson or a high-stakes adventure.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    Rena Barron's foray into African mythology is a fun adventure in the vein of Percy Jackson and other titles under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I really enjoyed this one, but I wish it had a better climax. Everything builds and then just kind of fizzles. Still, I think this will be popular with mythology fans who will be eager to find out what happens next. Recommended. Read more at Bookish Adventures. Rena Barron's foray into African mythology is a fun adventure in the vein of Percy Jackson and other titles under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I really enjoyed this one, but I wish it had a better climax. Everything builds and then just kind of fizzles. Still, I think this will be popular with mythology fans who will be eager to find out what happens next. Recommended. Read more at Bookish Adventures.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    A fantastic, action-packed ride with tons of representation and lots of love for the nerdy kids, like me. “Every kid should be so lucky to have friends who believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.” Definitely going to read the next book in the series. My only criticism was there were one or two places in the plot that didn’t quite come together, but it’s still really enjoyable! Definitely worth reading! 4.5 stars

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