Up until the day when twelve-year-old Maya sees the color bleed from the world, the weirdest things she’s ever heard of are the stories her dad tells her about his travels. She hasn’t believed his magic-filled tales of battling werehyenas, fleeing impundulu, and outwitting elokos for years, but she knows she saw the world turn grey, and her friends’ explanations of ghost invasions and poisoned food can’t explain it. Still…she must be making it up. Right?
But then she sees ferocious werehyenas on the nighttime streets of Chicago. And there’s a shadowy man twined with silk ribbons lurking in her dreams.
Just when Maya becomes sure she can’t be imagining this, she learns the truth. Her dad is a spirit-god, an orisha, and the guardian of the Veil, a barrier which separates Maya’s world from the Dark. But the Veil is tearing, courtesy of the powerful and malicious Lord of Shadows on the other side. And Maya’s dad is the only one who can repair it.
But when her dad is taken by the Lord of Shadows and the other orisha don’t dare to try to rescue him, Maya knows she’s the only one who can enter the Dark to get him back. Because not even the Lord of Shadows can keep this determined half-orisha from getting to her dad.
Maya and the Rising Dark is a well-plotted, fast-paced fantasy novel full of unique characters and multilayered magic. Maya feels like someone I could know, and her reactions to learning about a whole side to her world she never knew about feel realistic. Rena Barron weaves a complex universe of magical creatures and orishas over our everyday world, in a way which reminds me of Aru Shah and the End of Time. I’m looking forward to reading future books about Maya! I highly recommend Maya and the Rising Dark to fantasy fans ages nine and up, particularly those who like stories drawn from diverse mythologies.