Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Released: 28th June 2015
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Fantasy/Speculative
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Aza Ray 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 terribly 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—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Magonia is the 'weird and wonderful' book of the year which is definitely a captivating page-turner. There's good reason for the hype it has received since its release, and is quite unlike anything I've come across. A mix of contemporary, fantasy and sci-fi, Aza Ray's storyline is a whimsical one which ends up more edgy than you might expect. Is it worth a read? Heck yes. 

A girl with a breathing problem. Ships in the sky. Bird-people. 
Those three things don't sound like they would usually work together in a story, but in this case - they really do. These creative elements of the story all work in harmony with some pretty bizarre explanations. What pulls it all in is Headley's writing style, which is simply magical. Aza has such a strong narrative voice right from the start, and I loved her 'no BS' sassy attitude. She's not your timid sickly heroine, but one who still has a voice and wants to use it. We also get Jason's side of the story which alternates throughout, and he's such a sweetie. The friendship between those two and how they deal with some of the massive twists and turns in their respective situations makes the chapters whiz by. I can't say too much here without revealing massive spoilers, so it will have to be a case of 'read and you shall find'. Aside from the narrative voices, there are some nice quirks in how the text is structured. With some eccentric punctuation here and there to express some things which just can't be said in words, and word-shapes as well, this just added another sense of wonder to the plot.

Aboard the Amina Pennarum the story becomes that much more ethereal. While we do get a sure glimpse at the Magonians and how things work in the skies, I would have liked to have had some further insight into some of the characters. No doubt this will be explored further in the next book however, so I'll definitely be looking forward to that! There's also some lovely messages coming through about finding independence after your true identity is revealed, and dealing with such big changes when they simply don't feel real.


In all, Magonia does a fantastic job of blending fantasy with reality, by exploring a whole new fictional world above us. It's an equally emotional and unpredictable tale that may just take your breath away.


  1. I have seen so many good things about this book, and I'm scared it'll turn out to be another case of "everyone loves this but Chiara", and I don't want that D: I really love finding new books to devour (especially fantasy and unique stories), and I hope that I love it as much as everyone else has because it really does sound super lovely.

    I'm really interested in the "eccentric punctuation" you mentioned, because it sounds super awesome! Some things cant be said with words, and I'd love to see how an author incorporates that into a book.

    This is a lovely review, Eugenia!

    1. Thank you Chiara! It's definitely worth trying it in any case, since it is so whimsical and *different*. Weird yes, a good way :)


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