Hiiii! Welcome to my stop for Wings of Ebony, courtesy of Caffeine Book Tours! I have been itching to get my hands on a copy of this book, so when I heard I was selected for the tour, I went bananas! Read along for my thoughts about this powerhouse debut, and info on where to get your own copy! TW: Representations of gun violence (not graphic), reference to drugs, reference to murder, reference to genocide, on-page racism, violence. Please consider yourself and take care before reading this one, beloved.
In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry and must save both the human and god worlds — think Black Panther-meets-Cassandra Clare!
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
The characters. The writing. Everything is so fleshed out. I’ve never been to Houston, TX, let alone the East Row, but reading J. Elle’s words, I felt as though it was somewhere familiar. I loved how Rue’s character explained the family atmosphere of the block, because it really is like that for so many, myself included. My parents’ closest friends are my aunties and uncles, and their kids call me cuz…family ain’t always blood: it’s shared experiences and love and care.
I love that (eventually) Rue comes around to the idea of having a dad. I have a very strong relationship with both my father, and my father-in-law, so I’m always happy for a good daddy/daughter scene.
There is a bit of romance in this book, but not so much that the plot is distracted by it. Rue has two equally attractive, 100% down-for-the-cause guys interested in her, that she’s also interested in too…I’m interested to see who see chooses in the sequel (YES, there has to be one).
For the Chancellor to be the mastermind behind the stealing of the magic…he’s not seen much. I understand that our big bad ends up being [redacted] but I felt like we should have seen the head honcho more too?
Tasha’s character wasn’t very…there. She serves her purpose as the DiD (Damsel in Destress) and not much else. She isn’t the main focus of the book, so I understand why she didn’t get much backstory or motivation. Hopefully, she gets a bit more development in the sequel.
[REDACTED] WAS THE ONE WHO KILLED RUE’S MOM?! Omg. I was so angry when that came out. But, what a reveal! I loved how J. was able to string us along, just like Rue and then drop this bombshell at just the right time.
I absolutely loved. Loved. LOVED. Wings of Ebony. I can’t believe that this is J. Elle’s first book! The world building is amazing, the characters are fleshed out and believable. J. will definitely be on my roster of authors to watch, and you need to put her on yours too!
About the author
J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. For more on what J. Elle is up to, visit her online at https://authorjelle.com/.
Wing of Ebony is the debut novel of J. Elle released on January 26 from Simon & Schuster. For info on the book as well as links to purchase your own copy, please visit the book’s page on the publisher’s website.