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? – Goodreads
About 1/4th of the way through Magonia, I texted my partner with I’m reading a book about a girl with a severe rare lung disease and a huge imagination. He immediately responded with Is it Miss L accessible? Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t, yet, because the sarcasm in it would go above her head, and I’m not quite ready for her to confront the realities of where her own disease is taking her. But… welcome to our world. A world where a book about a dying girl with a vivid imagination makes us think immediately of our own child. A world where we, too, have to deal with the idea that our child probably won’t make it to sixteen years old. A life for our child in which her insides are twisted and her lungs are not able to handle the demands placed on them.
Miss L’s issue is real. Aza Ray’s is obviously not. But this story? It’s the dream of a mother with her own vivid imagination. Who has watched her child struggle to breathe. Confronted the reality that she won’t have her child for nearly as long as she should. Who has closed her eyes and imagined a world where the after isn’t really the end. Has dreamed there was a reason her child, HER child, for no explainable reason, has a body that works against this world. That doesn’t believe in heaven, but has imagined her child having a fantastic adventure in a world where she’s no longer in pain. Has wept at the idea of getting her back, against all odds.
I can’t truthfully say why I love Magonia. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a wonderful piece of work or because it’s every piece of heartache, wishful imagination, and hopejoypainlove surrounding my little girl put into novel form.
“You can go if you have to go,” my mom says, and her voice shakes, but she’s solid. She says it again, so I’ll know. “You can go if you have to go, okay, baby? Don’t wait for me. I love you, you’re mine, you’ll always be mine, and this is going to be okay, you’re safe, baby, you’re safe—” Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia
The above quote made me tear up when I read it, and again when I was writing it out for this review. I’ve told both of my children they could go if they needed to go. One did. One eventually will. Until you’ve lost a child, you can’t begin to comprehend the painlove in those words. Headley’s Magonia is full of gut-clenching, soul-rocking emotion.
Aza Ray is a beautiful character. Full of sarcasm, life, and dreams. My favorite quote from her comes early on.
Side note: Invalid. Whoever invented that word, and made it the same word as not-valid? That person sucked. – Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia
Yes. So yes. Very much yes.
Okay, removing myself from the emotional bit as much as possible now. Magonia is a young adult novel that provides swashbuckling adventure, romance, and snuffly moments galore. It’s a story that gives the readers a taste of the true love they all seem to crave and skirts neatly around a love triangle. It’s fantasy mashed against reality, where some of the edges bond together. And the ending? So not what you would expect, and absolutely awesome.
Magonia is not going to be to everyone’s taste, and I had to stop reading the Goodreads reviews after a few minutes because of that. I wanted to bash people’s heads against walls and tell them to pay attention to the story. No, it’s not perfect, and no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life isn’t perfect. Life with a terminal illness is this crazy mix of okay and horribly bad and all the breath-taking moments in between. Sometimes –often– things just don’t make sense. I’m willing to accept a few flaws in this case. I’m biased, and okay with that. Yes, the writing style is very different, but once you get into the flow of it, you realize how perfectly it suits the story. Even the mythology is pretty unique!
Basically, folks, this is a Must Read. It’s getting a place of honor on my shelf, and I know I’ll read it many more times in the future.
Sound interesting? Please consider supporting Sci-Fi & Scary and purchasing Magonia on Amazon now via this affiliate link.