15 June, 2021

[Review] Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone:
Supernatural Investigations #1
Release Date: 19 January, 2021
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction/Supernatural/Spooky/Mystery
ISBN: 9780062975164
Edition: Hardback (also available in audiobook and eBook)
Review Written: 22 March, 2021
Warnings: Racism, Hate Crimes, Kidnapping, Grief, Bullying, Medical Trauma, Death
Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

See more by B.B. Alston at his twitter. This novel, oh man, this novel. I didn't know what I was getting into when I stepped into Amari's world, but I am glad I did. This book is perfect for anyone wanting a story with fantastic worldbuilding and a magical setting that isn't Hogwarts.

Amari's world was turned upside-down when her older brother Quinton disappeared. Even though he had a job, the police are convinced he was on the wrong side of the law and is a victim of drug dealing. Add on some bullies in her school that cause Amari to be kicked out, it's fair to say that life isn't going great. That is until a mysterious delivery arrives for Amari, sent to her by her brother.

Amari is introduced into the world of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs via nomination from her brother. It's an intimidating thing, given that her brother is one of the best agents within the entire Bureau. And it's not easy going. Immediately Amari is thrown into the world of Supernatural affairs, to be gifted a bit of magic that will enhance one of her skills. But what skill does Amari have? Unfortunately, things go awry when she approaches to have her skill enhanced, revealing that Amari is a natural-born magician. This leads to more prejudices and bullying towards Amari to the point that her dorm room is vandalized.

Amidst all of this, she's also receiving texts from someone calling themselves "Magiciangirl82" who claims to be able to help. Discovering the identity of the mystery person causes more upset and brings more peril into Amari's life. When it's finally discovered what happened to Quinton, Amari must make a choice, save her brother or try to reason with her newfound partner and friend.

Alston's world is a rich, vibrant hue of various races and magical ideals. It shows the struggles of an average middle-schooler and how to rise above bullying. And it shows that ideals and prejudices can change with the times. This book left me wanting the sequel immediately after I finished, and I cannot wait to see where Amari's story goes from here. As mentioned earlier, I would highly recommend this as a good series to read for those wanting magical series with a strong lead, stellar sidekicks, and a plot-twist you won't see coming.

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