- Series: Magonia (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (April 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062320521
- ISBN-13: 978-0062320520
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 166 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Magonia Hardcover – April 28, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Almost 16-year-old Aza Ray has a body that just does not want to keep her alive. The doctors are puzzled. Her heart is not in the right place, and her lungs don't seem to be able to breathe. She fights to survive with the help of her parents and best friend (and potential romantic interest) Jason. Then strange things begin to happen as Aza Ray hears the sounds of ships' horns and bird calls, which nobody else can hear. On the afternoon of her 16th birthday, she has the most serious seizure to date, and while she is in the ambulance on the way to the hospital again, something strange happens. Aza dies. Except that she doesn't die. In a bizarre clap of thunder and lightning, she is torn away from the human world and lifted to the skies, where sailing ships and incredible strange flying whales and bird-people dwell. Aza discovers that she is not human and that her lungs and heart work perfectly high in the air, in the world of Magonia. She is the daughter of a powerful captain and she learns that there is some undefined destiny that she must fulfill to save Magonia. The story continues as the heroine learns of her new world and Jason uses his prodigious Internet and mathematical talents to discover whether or not Aza is really dead. The book races to an epic confrontation that will leave readers thrilled, though confused, as the action continues. VERDICT Romance, danger, and world-building combine to make a (mostly) satisfying read.—Denise Schmidt, San Francisco Public Library
Maria Dahvana Headley is a firecracker: she’s whip smart with a heart, and she writes like a dream. (Neil Gaiman, bestselling author of The Graveyard Book and Coraline)
“Magonia is magical. A high-flying, refreshing, and literally out-of-the-blue fantasy with great characters, emotional depth, and a unique fantasy world that I never saw coming.” (Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Red Queen)
“Headley riffs like an improv comic… funny, furious, and vulnerable. The haunting conclusion leaves many issues unresolved, but the ferocious, intelligent power of Aza and Jason’s bond is completely affirmed. Sweeping, strange, and richly imagined, the novel is ideal for fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“With lush writing, memorable world building, and an array of peculiar characters, this is sure to thrill readers looking for a distinctive, imaginative tale in the vein of Laini Taylor and Neil Gaiman.” (Booklist)
“The painful, sarcastic beauty of Aza’s interactions down below in the everyday world begs comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.“ (Kirkus Reviews)
“The book races to an epic confrontation that will leave readers thrilled… romance, danger, and world-building combine.” (School Library Journal)
“The sweeping, lyrical language in both parts of the book is captivating, with haunting scenes woven from carefully chosen, sharply evocative descriptions.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“Magonia hooked me from the first page. It has an amazing voice, brutal and hopeful both at once, and a beautiful, unique mythology. Wonderful.” (Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns and The Forbidden Library)
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My child's issue is real. Aza Ray’s is obviously not. But this story? It’s the dream of a mother with her own vivid imagination. Who has watched her child struggle to breathe. Confronted the reality that she won’t have her child for nearly as long as she should. Who has closed her eyes and imagined a world where the after isn’t really the end. Has dreamed there was a reason her child, HER child, for no explainable reason, has a body that works against this world. That doesn’t believe in heaven, but has imagined her child having a fantastic adventure in a world where she’s no longer in pain. Has wept at the idea of getting her back, against all odds.
I can’t truthfully say why I love Magonia. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a wonderful piece of work or because it’s every piece of heartache, wishful imagination, and hopejoypainlove surrounding my little girl put into novel form.
“You can go if you have to go,” my mom says, and her voice shakes, but she’s solid. She says it again, so I’ll know. “You can go if you have to go, okay, baby? Don’t wait for me. I love you, you’re mine, you’ll always be mine, and this is going to be okay, you’re safe, baby, you’re safe—” Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia
The above quote made me tear up when I read it, and again when I was writing it out for this review. I’ve told both of my children they could go if they needed to go. One did. One eventually will. Until you’ve lost a child, you can’t begin to comprehend the painlove in those words. Headley’s Magonia is full of gut-clenching, soul-rocking emotion.
Aza Ray is a beautiful character. Full of sarcasm, life, and dreams. My favorite quote from her comes early on.
Side note: Invalid. Whoever invented that word, and made it the same word as not-valid? That person sucked. – Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia
Yes. So yes. Very much yes.
Okay, removing myself from the emotional bit as much as possible now. Magonia is a young adult novel that provides swashbuckling adventure, romance, and snuffly moments galore. It’s a story that gives the readers a taste of the true love they all seem to crave and skirts neatly around a love triangle. It’s fantasy mashed against reality, where some of the edges bond together. And the ending? So not what you would expect, and absolutely awesome.
Magonia is not going to be to everyone’s taste, and I had to stop reading the Goodreads reviews after a few minutes because of that. I wanted to bash people’s heads against walls and tell them to pay attention to the story. No, it’s not perfect, and no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life isn’t perfect. Life with a terminal illness is this crazy mix of okay and horribly bad and all the breath-taking moments in between. Sometimes –often– things just don’t make sense. I’m willing to accept a few flaws in this case. I’m biased, and okay with that. Yes, the writing style is very different, but once you get into the flow of it, you realize how perfectly it suits the story. Even the mythology is pretty unique!
Basically, folks, this is a Must Read. It’s getting a place of honor on my shelf, and I know I’ll read it many more times in the future.
The Magonians have a symbiotic and transformational relationship with birds. Their serving class, the Rostrae, are avian shape-shifters who can become birds at lower altitudes. Each Magonian has a heart-bird, that nests inside the chest, in the lung and sings magical songs with the host. Aza has one called Milekt. Aza has a special destiny and a mission. This is why she was swapped out as a baby.
Her songs can save Magonia – and perhaps destroy the surface world in the process.
The Magonian ships hide in the clouds, and they follow the storms clouds over farmland to pick up earthly crops scattered by the storm. The French even passed laws against them in the early Middle Ages. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but this crop raiding is a major issue in the story. The Magonians are hungry and they control the storms with airborn whales (squwalwhales) sort of an organic HARP system. I wonder how the squwalwhales stay up. I solved this problem in my Sky-world novel Drell Master by having both plants and animals (giant squids) produce buoyant gasses. The plants made buoyant seed pods and the squids (drells) had fly-bladders (like a fish’s swim-bladder). Headley suggests that the Magonians originally had their own sky-farms with airplants. (yes there are edible airplants – air potatoes) Unfortunately most of the plants in the Voynich Manuscript seem to have root systems. But then my trapped seed-pods might hold farmland aloft. But we can’t hide farmland in the clouds so we’re going to need something like the Bermuda Triangle to navigate between worlds. Oh well, Oz was made invisible by magick and I suppose Maria Davahna Headley can do the same with Magonia.
Aza has a earthly boyfriend, a super-genius kid Jason, who believes she’s dead when she makes her ascent. But she returns to him and we are assured they will see more of eachother in the sequal. I await her “Aerie” with baited breath.
Reviewed by Poke Runyon
Host of The Hermetic Hour, blogtalkradio.com
Author-illustrator Drell Master