MIDDLE GRADE SPECULATIVE FICTION (Fantasy): Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

 53240817

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal? 

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate. 

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out. 

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

REVIEW

Amari Peters beloved older brother Quinton has gone missing and Amari is desperate to find him. But living in the projects doesn't help her cause any with the police assuming Quinton was involved in something illegal.  A strange briefcase left to her by her brother and the message it contains sends her off on an adventure she could never have imagined.  As a trainee at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari finally feels like she has a chance of finding Quinton.  Things get more difficult though when she discovers her supernatural ability is one that is considered illegal and almost everyone looks at her with suspicion. The awful way she is treated by many of those around her almost drives her to quit. On top of that she has to compete in tryouts against kids who've known about the supernatural world and been training to be Junior Agents their entire lives. But with the help of her weredragon roommate and a secret magician friend, she is determined to find out what happened to her brother.

I thoroughly enjoyed the magical world that Alston has created.  Mixing the supernatural world with the real world works surprisingly well.  Amari made for a great main character with her determination and love for her family. The friendship she forges with her roommate is a delightful one.  And frankly it was good to see Amari with some support considering all but one of the other trainees in her group are mean to her.  The tryouts that Amari goes through are some of the most enjoyable parts of the book as she experiences a variety of different activities and gets a chance to actually prove herself.  Amari has so few allies at the Bureau that one a traitor is revealed it's both shocking and sad, but definitely provides an interesting twist that will clearly be explored more in future volumes.  Alston's presents readers with a solid introduction to Amari and her expanding world and leaves the reader wanting more.

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