That cover got me from the moment I saw it. Holy hell, what a color-and-motive-combination. But I am not so sure if I would have read it anyway if I´d known what it was with all the birds. Still getting goosebumps when I think of all those scenes where they are playing a key role in it. I don´t know what I was expecting, but surely not what I was getting. The story is of great fantasy, no questions here. But how everything was set up – sometimes very nasty.

by Maria Dahvana Headley
Magonia Series #1
Publisher HarperCollins on April 28, 2015
Genre Children 14+
Pages 320
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak – to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn´t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who´s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terrible wrong. Aza is lost to our world – and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships. Aza is not the weak and dying thing, she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power – but ahs she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza´s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity – including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Aza is fighting for air. Since she can think the air around her felt thick and not right for her. No one knows why she´s sick or how they can help her. Not her mother, not the doctors at the hospital. The older she becomes, the more likely it is that she will die. A fact her parents ignore the best way they can. 

Things are addressed that are not always easy for the reader to understand and somehow scary if not disgusting. At least that is how I see it. No question, the idea of a city in the clouds, of imaginative explanations, why there is acid rain in the world, or why sometimes from one second to the other bad weather breaks out or even entire crops are destroyed, are awesome. There is incredible potential in the plot, though the implementation is not always the best. 

What´s annoying, from the first moment, is, the way Aza is treated by her people in Magonia. Everyone assumes that she is on the same level of knowledge as all the others. Illogical if you consider that she didn´t grow up like the others. She learned completely different things than the rest of the people of Magonia. But no consideration is given to that. Instead, she is treated as stubborn and stupid. A clear flaw. The theme of death is sensitively addressed or denied because none of the characters – except for Aza – wants to deal with it clearly. 

The language is simple and clear, and the style not always easy to understand. During the entire reading, the story stays a mystery and in the end, the reader is left behind with an awkward feeling, mixed emotions, and a very controversial sight of what is or can be.

Aza is not exactly what I would call an easy to handle a girl. She shows a brash nature to her environment, is cynical, and very sarcastic. And when she wants to speak with her parents about her coming death or demands their support, she is mercilessly abandoned.  Her parents have their very own way of coping with the unexplained illness of their daughter.

And she is not a character you just accept. She sees things incredibly complex, brings them together in a way, others would not dream of, and has a view of the world and herself - often pushing hard to the limit of what is bearable. But she does not give up. Neither herself nor her principles and for sure not what she believes in. And that drives another figure downright because Aza refuses to be made a puppet. Even if she must commit an absolute taboo.  

What a weird, unusual, and strange novel. The idea behind it is beautiful, that´s for sure. And could be intriguing if the peculiar implementation were not. With the ghoulish elements that go sharply to the limit of disgusting, not exactly what I call reading pleasure. Shown is a brutal world that is in parasitic relation with the earth we know. In combination with the red thread of omnipresent death not exactly conventional. For me, due to some illogical things, and the distance I always felt, just an average novel. But judge for yourself. 

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release by Heyne fliegt on April 3, 2017 

Maria Dahvana Headley
Maria Dahvana Headley ©John Ulman

Maria Dahvana Headley grew up in Idaho on a ranch. Writing is her profession; She has already made a name for herself as a scriptwriter and journalist, but her true passion is the fantastic stories. And collecting 18th century historical star atlases. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards. The author lives in Brooklyn in an apartment with a seven-foot stuffed crocodile and constellations on the ceiling. 



  1. Hallo Vi!

    Eine gute Rezension hast du zu dem Buch geschrieben. Während des Lesens saß ich nickend vor dem Computer. Tatsächlich finde ich die Vögel auch ziemlich gruselig und die Art und Weise wie mit Ava umgegangen wird, entspricht auch nicht meinen Wünschen. Alles ist so wirr und verwirrend, dass sich beim Lesen kein Sog einstellen mochte. Die angesprochenen Themen wie bspw die Naturkatastrophen usw wiederrum finde ich ebenfalls sehr gut. Leider werden diese ja nicht weiter aufgegriffen. Wirklich schade. Aber interessant zu sehen, dass wir ähnliche Gedanken zum Buch hatten. Wenn ich darf, würde ich deine Rezension gerne unter meiner eigenen verlinken. :)

    Viele Grüße, Anna

    1. Hi Anna,

      herzlichen Dank für deine lieben Worte. Ich hab grad richtig schmunzeln müssen als ich deinen comment las *g*. Gerne kannst du eine Verlinkung machen, freut mich sehr! Und danke für deinen Besuch hier.

      Beste Grüße

    2. Lieben Dank für deine lieben Worte zu meiner Rezension. :) Deinen Link habe ich nun mit meinem Beitrag verbunden, vielen Dank!
      Habe noch einen schönen Abend. :)

    3. Hi Anna, gerne doch. Wenn eine Rezension gut geschrieben ist, dann muss man das doch würdigen. Finde ich zumindest. Danke für deinen erneuten Besuch :-)


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