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The Blazing Star Paperback – December 6, 2016
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I loved the character building. At the beginning I thought it wasn't going fast enough, but then I realized, I loved getting to know Portia & Alex at that pace.
The fact that the author wasn't always rushing it just helped me get deeper into the story. And from a girl who was used into getting overshadowed by her twin, and then found herself and the courage to face the challenges in front of her, Portia seriously braved up in a way that made me love the story even more. Top that up with time travelling, romance (even though I would've loved to read more about this romance), AND YA DIVERSITY, my heart seriously melted by this amazing, adventures story that took me into a world way before my time.
LOVED IT! LOVED IT! AND LOVED IT SOME MORE!
Already looking forward for the next book by this Author!
Thank you for the great read!!!
One thing I only recently realized about all these books I devoured as a kid, though, is that all the main characters are white. Either those existing in Ancient Egypt or those looking back at it (or even traveling back to it), which of course would not be the case at all. Call that prewoke reading if you will.
I think I found The Blazing Star through following the author on Twitter and however I found it, I am so glad I did. The book features a black girl going back in time with her twin sister and another black girl. And the people they meet are not white. They’re given appropriate skin colors and heritages. It was eye opening to contrast it with everything else I have read (and loved, as problematic as it all is). For all those kids, and girls in particular, who are not white and have fallen in love with Ancient Egypt they deserve to see that they are more closely linked with Ancient Egypt than people that look like me are. This is a book for them.
I appreciated that Josey appears to have done her research. The clothes, activities, and places are much more reflective of what Ancient Egypt would have looked and felt like than a lot of other books out there. The story follows the Ancient Egyptian calendar. They speak another language. Even the weather gets a mention. Sure, it ends up diverging from the reality of what Ancient Egypt would have been for the sake of a plot, but in the context of the book that’s okay. She kept what she could and embellished it in a fun and suspenseful way.
This one is definitely worth having on your shelves, especially if you have Egypt fanatics. While I would call it YA because it features some very light romance and because the girls are 16 years old, there’s nothing in it that would make it inappropriate for younger audiences (seven and eight grade). The reading level and length might deter some kids, but don’t rule it out simply because you serve a middle school population.
One complaint about the cover. Two actually. First are the Pyramids silhouetted in Portia’s head. Everyone thinks of those when they think of Egyptian history, but by the time most Egyptian history people know about (Ramses, Tut, etc.) and by the time this book takes place, they were already very, very old. Yes, they’re iconically Egyptian, but it’s not historically accurate. I know, I know. Nit-picky. Also the menes forming around Portia’s head was not a headdress worn by just anyone. It’s something worn by male pharaohs. Again, nit-picky. Otherwise, this cover is going to suck in readers. It’s lovely and screams Egyptian adventure.
Be sure to purchase The Blazing Star and keep your eye out for sequels. I know I will be.
Top international reviews
THE BLAZING STAR by Imani Josey is an entertaining, well-written fantasy about strong female characters facing a dark force in ancient Egypt. This was a fresh take on time travel and goddess-given magic, and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. With strong messages of sisterhood, Josey has created a breathtaking debut.
The protagonist, Portia travels the Rivers of Time to ancient Egypt with her twin sister, Alex and freshman Selene, and must protect Egypt from a power-hungry priest and humanoid monsters. Not to mention, learning to control her own new-found magical abilities called Heka. I absolutely loved Portia’s character! In the beginning, she’s shy and introverted, struggling to break out of her sister’s shadow. As the book progresses, we see her breaking free and becoming a stronger, bolder person. Alex is this super smart genius, who doesn’t understand why her sister would want to do things differently from her. I haven’t read many books where the MC is a twin, so it was interesting to read about these conflicting personalities. Portia doesn’t want to live in her sister’s shadow anymore and doesn’t completely hate the idea of staying in ancient Egypt. Alex just wants to go home and for everything to go back to normal. Selene is new to Portia’s school, so she and Alex are getting to know Selene at the same time as the reader.
The first couple chapters were a bit rocky, it started off with Alex being given an academic award and I was a little confused. I definitely understood why the author chose to start the novel there – Portia had just cut her hair, it was the start of her breaking out of her sister’s shadow. After that, I was totally into the book. TBS starts off in the modern era, to set the scene a bit, but the parts set in ancient Egypt were completely captivating! The descriptions were incredible and I felt like I was actually there. It was almost like reading a diary or another primary source, just because of how real it felt. The reader almost forgets the MC is from the modern era, but every now and then Portia compares something from the ancient world to the modern. I loved these references, mainly because of the humour; Portia is such a funny character. Some of my favourites:
“Most women I knew changed their names after marriage, but no one changed their full name unless they joined the Witness Protection Program.” – Location 1688
“The procession left the temple in an excursion like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” – Location 1734
“Every eye was on the mysterious Hyksos monarch, a Hollywood Star glittering on the red carpet.” – Location 1873
There’s some romance but the focus is definitely on Portia’s character as well as the bonds of sisterhood. The romance hits a bit harder halfway through and boy I was not disappointed. I loved Prince Seti and I also loved the mysterious Merenptah, who we met earlier in the novel. There were some plot twists I saw coming and others I didn’t, but I loved them all! Especially the one surrounding Selene, which I won’t share because of spoilers.
At first I was a bit disappointed about the romance being on the back burner but I started thinking about this book as a whole. It’s so original and fresh, and it breaks tropes. I started reading THE BLAZING STAR with the expectation that the protagonist would have this incredible romance with a prince (as is usual with some other time travel books I’ve read) and I loved that that didn’t happen, at least not right away. There are not a lot of well-written time travel books set in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, so it’s hard not to expect something that’s been done in every other book you’ve read.
One last thing I loved about this book: Portia doesn’t let anyone undermine another woman, even if letting it happen would help her out. At one point Prince Seti makes fun of his betrothed, Princess Tuya for needing Portia’s help even though she has a lot of other servants, and Portia doesn’t let him get away with that. NO WOMEN BASHING IN THIS BOOK.
THE BLAZING STAR is a fresh, original take on the time-traveling-to-the-ancient-world books we’ve seen before. I loved the emphasis on sisterhood and Portia is a protagonist I’m unlikely to forget in the near future. Definitely check out this star studded masterpiece.
“People don’t expect me to fail. People don’t expect me to do anything at all.” -Location 2633
“You aren’t here to rid us of trouble. There is no world of only light, Portia, or darkness.” -Location 2857
“This is the first time I mean something,” I said, my voice cracking before I could get all of my words out. “You’ve always meant something to me,” she said. “But I didn’t mean anything to me, Alex,” I replied. “I didn’t mean anything to me.” -Location 3059
“Though stripped of my lightening, I was a deadly warrior. But the goddess gave talent, not control. I would have to discover that for myself.” -Location 3169
“To him, I was still a strange girl in the Temple of Isis’s keep, the daughter of a foreign princess who was entangled with powerful enemies of his kingdom.” -Location 3563
“For you, I will wait for one day,” he said through now shock-less kisses. “For you, I would wait everyday.” -Location 3623