This YA debut starts in John Green territory but quickly takes a left hand turn into a fantastical world that Neil Gaiman might have dreamed up. In fact, Gaiman is a fan of Magonia, calling author Headley “a firecracker: she’s whip smart with a heart, and she writes like a dream.”
What she’s writing about is a girl with a critical breathing illness. When Aza becomes lost to our world, she finds her fate in a land above the clouds, where she is not only healthy but in an immensely powerful position—one that may decide the very future of both Earth and Magonia.
Magonia is based Medieval French folklore about pirates who traveled in cloud ships and stole from those on Earth. This is brainy, witty epic fantasy with textured world building and a nuanced exploration of ideas like zealotry, terrorism and heroism. (Really cool cover, too.)
“Terminally ill from infancy, Aza is willing to accept that she’s dead….Yet Aza is very much alive on the massive Magonian airship Amina Pennarum, with a piratical captain, who declares herself Aza’s true mother, and a crew of jays, robins, owls—and one screaming ghost. Headley….[T]he first-person narration is funny, furious, and vulnerable. The haunting conclusion leaves many issues unresolved, but the ferocious, intelligent power of Aza and Jason’s bond is completely affirmed. Sweeping, strange, and built around a richly imagined world of chimerical bird-men and airships…”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Magonia (9780062320520) by Maria Dahvana Headley. $17.99 hardcover. 4/28/15 on sale.