Thank you to BookSparks for sending me a copy of Amari and the Great Game for an honest review!
After saving the entire supernatural world and becoming a junior agent, Amari Peters thought her second summer at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs would be easy. But the new Head Minister is dangerously anti-magician, her brother’s curse is worsening and a magical attack leaves the government literally frozen. When the supernatural world once again blames magicians for their problems, the secretive League of Magicians reaches out to Amari to become their leader and clear their names.
When she refuses the crown, another magician with dangerous plans steps up. Amari knows she can’t let him win, and so the Great Game begins. The challenge is mysterious and deadly, but the winner will determine the future of magician-kind – and the world.
Amari and the Great Game is a fantastic follow-up to 2020’s Amari and the Night Brothers. The first book was a magical story emphasizing friendship, perseverance and self-confidence combined with literal Black Girl Magic and B.B. Alston doesn’t disappoint us with the sequel. He deftly balances playful magic, high-stakes adventure and real-world issues like discrimination and misinformation.
I loved returning to Alston’s incredibly-built world. The Bureau itself was fully realized and I wish I could see it for real. I especially appreciated the addition of The Department of Half-Truths and Full Cover-Ups, which felt incredibly and uncomfortably real in this magical setting. Every time Harlowe, the department’s director, appeared on the page my frustration at the realism grew exponentially. It takes a lot of talent to create such a despicable character and Alston’s work there impressed me.
Both younger and older readers will appreciate that Amari doesn’t do everything on her own. While she initially keeps things from her friends, she lets them in on what’s happening in her life fairly early on. Amari may be a strong magician, but it isn’t just her powers that make her a great character. She’s willing to learn from her mistakes, give people a second chance and lean on their strengths.
The story doesn’t quite end with a happily-ever-after. However, it does set things up nicely for a dramatic third (and final?) book in the Supernatural Investigations series. Alongside recent middle-grade books like Marti Dumas’ Wildseed Witch and Dhonielle Clayton’s The Marvellers, Amari and the Great Game is a great addition to the newest round of magical school books.
Amari and the Great Game is available now from your local, independent bookstore or Bookshop.org.
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